New York Artist Watch: Italian Conceptual Artist Anita Sto Didn’t look at her own image for an entire year…


All photos by Virginia Villari ©2012 All Rights Reserved

I met Anita Sto on a rainy afternoon in January at a casual meeting in the super cool, artsy apartment of art and fashion personality Man-lai, located at the (in)famous Chelsea Hotel in New York. 

We talked about her upcoming solo show, which will present Anita’s one year long performance art piece. 

I got really intrigued by this work and the artist and I decided to meet the following week at her studio for an interview. 

Anita’s studio space is located at the Invisible Dog (Brooklyn), a warehouse building converted in multidisciplinary art center, which hosts artist studios, art exhibitions, performances, lectures, film screenings and more.


Anita came to New York almost by chance. She won a summer residency at the School of Visual Arts and was literally thrown into the Big Apple’s artist life, with a studio space in Chelsea, a room in Williamsburg, a lot of work and a lot of fun. And guess what? She loved it! 

After three years, she is still here telling us about living as an artist in New York.

Virginia: The first thing I heard about you is that you did a one year long performance (2010 -2011) that consisted in never looking at yourself in mirrors or at your reflection in any shop window or reflecting surface. When and why did you come up with this idea?

Anita: The night on November 10th 2010 I came back home, it was late and I was probably so tired I forgot that on that day somebody would have come to paint my bathroom. When I walked into it to wash my hands and raised the head…I had a strange reaction…simply because my mind was used to find a face hanging over that wall, above the sink… and in that moment with the mirror covered by newspapers, I couldn’t see it as I was expecting to. This simple experience made me think about how much I was attached to an image which I knew I could find on that wall of the house –– in the mirror. After that, I asked myself how it would be to avoid this kind of attachment… the rest of the story is my one year without mirrors.


V: How did it feel like throughout the process and what are your considerations now that the performance is over?

A: I would call it ‘experiment-piece’ rather than performance, because in a way I was looking at myself like the scientist looks at the monkeys in a laboratory. I have been analyzing, interpreting, sometimes judging, and also just feeling whenever I was giving and getting feedback, moving and pulling out-or-in emotions and thoughts. My considerations will be presented in my upcoming solo show…

V: I noticed that your drawings and paintings are predominantly black and white.  What’s the meaning of this binary chromatics?

A: Black and white is one color – the inner, the outer. Black contains all, creates harmony and doesn’t interfere with the other colors. White is when black is not and vice-versa: each one is revealed from the other’s presence.  There is no intrusion or negation of colors but a constant, uniform flux as well as the harmonic motion. It’s a game between the two equivalent sides of one color.


V: It seems that in both your visual works and performance pieces it really comes down to a sort of intense face to face with your own self.  Is that what you “use” art for?

A: I use art as a tool to communicate something or even nothing else but aesthetic balance in between empties and solids. I could say I have different approaches: sometimes my works take over and speak to me, sometimes I engage in conscious search for images and ideas to which I give a form to. I let it be and play, using action and counteraction, numbers and fatality, blacks and whites…


V: Overall your art could be described as conceptual and minimalist. Who or what are your main inspirations?

A: I am inspired by every kind of work that I can read, research about and attempt to look into for answers or at least putting out questions…I believe that the artist’s role and commitment should be, first of all, to tell and show what other people wouldn’t do or say. This is why I really love artists who work with “everyday life moments”, taking inspiration either from pain and joy, coming from their guts, or from simple life’s things, which in the rush of each of us’ busy days we lost and forget to care about. 

Regarding my performance pieces, if I have to pick few names…I would say I am inspired most of all by Marina Abramovic, Sophie Calle, Gino De Dominicis and Yves Klein.


V: You will present your “One Year Performance” in a solo show that will open on March 3rd 2012 at Broadway Gallery: 473 Broadway, 7th Floor. What should we expect from it?

Do-never-expect, but embrace… whatever it will be around you! And then, come to me for the critiques! I am making a show about one year of my life and I am curious to see my audience’s reactions: this is what art means for me.


This is a show not to be missed. If you are visiting NYC or living here I WILL see you there! 🙂