Floria Sigismondi

Posted: December 5th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Floria Sigismondi (born 1965 in Pescara, Italy) is a photographer and director.


Self Portrait with cat, 1998, Courtesy of Floria Sigismondi

Apart from her art exhibitions she is best known for directing music videos for Christina Aguilera, Muse, Interpol, The White Stripes, David Bowie, Sigur Rós, Sheryl Crow, The Cure, Björk, Amon Tobin and Marilyn Manson. Her trademark dilating, jittery camerawork, noticeable as early as her video for Manson’s The Beautiful People, has been replicated by a great number of directors since.

Marilyn Manson, 1996, Courtesy of Floria Sigismondi

Her parents were opera singers. Her family moved to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada when she was two. In her childhood she became obsessed by drawing and painting. Later, from 1987 she studied painting and illustration at the Ontario College of Art, today’s Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD). When she took a photography course, she became obsessed once more, and graduated with a photography major.
Floria Sigismondi started a career as a fashion photographer. She came to directing music videos when she was approached by the production company The Revolver Film Co., and directed music videos for a number of Canadian bands. Her very innovative, but also very disturbing video works, located in sceneries she once described as entropic underworlds inhabited by tortured souls and omnipotent beings, attracted a number of very prominent musicians.
With her photography and sculpture installations she had solo exhibitions in Hamilton and Toronto, New York, Brescia, Italy, Göteborg, Sweden and London. Her photographs also were included in numerous group exhibitions, together with those of photographers like Cindy Sherman and Joel-Peter Witkin.

Floria Sigismondi interviewed by Uleshka & Kyoko for Ping Mag (2005)

Many of your videos use imagery from your childhood: gothic opera dresses, industrial towns, religious imagery. Would you say all your work mirrors your real life?

I express my angers and loves through my work. Things that preoccupy me and elate me. Subconsciously it creeps into the images I create.

After graduating with a photography major, you worked as a fashion photographer, then started directing music videos. How did you make the transition?

I was interested in making moving images when I realized my photos started to be part of a series of 5 or more photos at a time. I would light the subject so I was able to move the camera 360 degrees around the person and it would look good from every angle. I loved the dimension sound and movement brought. It was a whole new experience.

Throughout your photography, music videos and installations – you always manage to create a distinctive Floria Sigismondi world. How would you describe what you do, it’s more than simply directing, right?

I think of myself as a visual artist…take my camera and materials away and I would sit here and draw pictures in he sand.

And how would you describe your style, then?

Maybe dream interpreter …maybe capturing signals from other worlds.

I want to make a music video. How do I start?

I tend to listen to the music over and over again until I don’t hear it anymore or it drives me crazy. Then it is ingrained into memory and the images start to present themselves. I don’t question the initial thought…I do not judge it. I let it grow and take me somewhere and hopefully somewhere I’ve never been before. I usually go a little crazy before I get it out though.

How long does it take to make one of your music videos?

Creating one video, it takes about 1 month from prep to final edit, if there are special effects then it may take a bit longer.

In your work, it is obvious that the body concerns you a lot. What does modifying the body mean to you?

I was disconnected from my body for a long time…I lived in my head and was far from the physical. I think this was my way in dealing with it…the way I saw it…from an aliens point of view. I could take it apart and put it back together in order to try and understand it.

Your first book, Redemption became a bible for the Japanese goth girls.  What’s your opinion on them?

Great! I think the Japanese gothics dress the most creative in all the world. There is really a sense of individualism in the way it’s put together. It is a walking theater. You can imagine how into that I am. I would love one day to come to Japan.

Your imagery revolves around fear, warnings and anger. Do you consider yourself to be an optimist or a pessimist?

I am an optimist of course, but I am a realist also. It is evident that the course of the future will be very different than we enjoy it now. I depict a world gone wrong because that is part of nature…our human nature. We play god. Whether it be through war, the environment or genome manipulation, there is plenty of room for corruption and corrupted it will be.

Floria Sigismondi, Redemption, Gestalten Verlag, 1999
Floria Sigismondi, Immune, Gestalten Verlag, 2005


David Bowie (book cover), 1997, Courtesy of Floria Sigismondi