A photographer and videographer from Boston, MA who is currently living and creating in Mexico City. After a fortunately-failed attempt at studying interior design—a long-time passion— Allegra transferred to Art Institute of Boston to study something else that she was always passionate about but never fully conscious of: photography. Nothing ever felt more right.
Allegra completed her undergrad senior thesis with an exhibition of videos, she is continuing to work mainly with video now. During her time in college, her work was concerned mostly with family. Still, Allegra is interested in this subject, and it seems to creep through much of what she makes, but is not quite as focused on it. To create these videos, She utilize source material from old VHS tapes or the internet and attempt to create different stories, different histories, from fragments of seemingly disparate and outlying materials. She actually considers herself more of an editor than much else.
Between artists, or people that you have surrounded yourself with everyday life, who do you think has influenced you, and your work the most? (You can say as much people as you want, doesn’t matter) I've met some amazing people with whom I've made invaluable relationships, specifically creative relationships, and who push me to think in new ways. The critique group, which includes Claire, Carlos, Gabo, Berke and Abril, helped me a lot to keep working—and more importantly trusting in my work—when I wanted to give into the post-graduation slump.
But truthfully, the space where I am has impacted me even more. Living in Mexico City has influenced so much the way I work and think about art, time and life in general. I met someone recently who had tried to live in New York City for a year or so, and he said something that completely sums up my ideas about living in Mexico City: it makes so many things possible that couldn't be in the US. Things cost less so I don't need to be working a full-time job just to pay rent. I have much more free time to play with ideas that I would never imagine to experiment with if I didn't have this time. It's also significantly widened my perception of art. In the US I don't think we are taught nearly enough about Latin American art—and often times art that isn't directly concerned with the United States—and there are so many brilliant makers that I never would have discovered if I hadn't changed my surroundings.
Where are you from originally? I was born in Nebraska. I still feel some sort of distant connection to that place but I truly consider myself from northern Massachusetts.
What is it that you think you are most passionate about and why? My passions change all the time and switch their hierarchies depending on what I'm doing or what I feel like that day. But right now I guess I would say I'm most passionate about living a life without obligations other than the ones I put on myself. I think it's important to have periods in your life in which you only do the things that feel right with you; it sparks so many other things to happen that might not otherwise. I'm passionate about experimenting. I'm passionate about thinking openly and creatively. I'm sure if you ask me next week I'll be passionate about other things...
Why photography? I guess I always felt drawn toward the medium and it's process—time, light, chemistry, optics. But once I began studying photography I felt a stronger pull toward video. Photography interests me because it is supposed to be believable, factual. And because of this, I work within the framework of "fact" yet leave space for the viewer to question what is happening in the photo, or how it was constructed. Photography, because it is a medium concerned with exclusion and selectivity—editing out or editing in. I feel the same way about video but a bit more complexly. It's harder to visually—for lack of a better word—trick the viewer when your picture is moving or making sound. It exposes more reality. But as with any other medium there are different strategies to successfully manipulate it for a certain vision. Video, because I use it similarly as I do photography but to me, it has more depth, more flatness, and more potential.
What are your goals overall as an artist and or a humane in todays society? My eventual, overall goals as an artist are to help other artists with their production and exhibition processes and, for myself, to always have the ability and time to make.
If there was one thing that you could do to change the world, what would it be? I would excuse all student loan debt.
What are you currently working towards at the moment? Lately I've been working on and off concerning a personal project about US presidents (specifically JFK and FDR). I am utilizing and re-purposing family videos of the Kennedy and Roosevelt families to look at appearances about the US as a whole. I am still hesitant to make any concrete commentary about this project—as I'm still in the beginning stages and think it is a very complex topic about which to have a set comment—but I am focusing on and personifying the appearance that the US broadcasts of itself to the rest of the world by re-using the home videos of these two, very much loved, presidents who had illnesses that they attempted to hide with great effort.
Aside from this project, I have recently begun to work with my friend Gabo on his creation, The Garden Review.
The concept is to collaborate with friends as well as create a space for our friends, and ourselves, to be "published". Gabo began the online website by requesting text from friends with the intent of creating a separate webpage for each submission. I am now doing something similar, except I am creating a video for each text. I love working on this project because it keeps me inspired. And more than inspired, it makes me think in a completely different way than I normally do about video. It keeps me on my toes; it lends me the ability to have a fresh slate with every video.
I was always told that going from studying art to practicing art outside of school comes as a shock. I wouldn't say "shock" in my situation, but rather "slump". We started the critique group that I mentioned earlier soon after I moved here, which helped that "slump" avoid becoming a "standstill". However, my mind and my body needed a break from the four years of intense art-making and critiquing. Now, one year later, I am back in the swing of creating but in a much different way. I have been drawn much more to "craftier" approaches.
I have been working with erasure poetry; I am learning how to make my own clothes; I'm focusing more deeply on my jewelry-making that I hope to soon develop into a business; and continuing with my video editing (and super8) processes.
I am taking this time in my life to dip my toes into every aspect of making that I can—seeing where each different approach can take me.
You can check out more of her work by clicking here!
Subtitle text by Thomas Rogalski