Interview with Olga Mathey

You work the eroticism and sexuality through embroidery. Where did the will to approach eroticism and sexuality from embroidery come from? And why explore different sorts, as your first project, Circus?

The relation between eroticism and embrodery came really naturaly, like a real need. Later I descovered a lot of other “feminist” artists who use this medium to speak about sexuality, tabous, whoman rights all over the world. For me, sexuality and eroticism is a subject without limites, there are as many sexualities and way of experimenting it as there are human beings. My first project was about Circus cause I wanted to explore the contorsionist and aerobatic way of sexuality. Circus is interesting because it’s a mix of dreams and nightmares, it’s shiny and freaky. It’s something always present in my work, this duality between attraction and repulsion. Now I explore the topic of pagan rituals witch contains this same duality.
It’s was a good starting point, and after that, I continued to explore my proper univers untill I left to live in Mexico for one year. Ovethere I interviewed different kind of people from all sexualities, all ages and social backgrounds, about Erotism and how it’s perceived in their culture. From there on, I got my inspiration from those relationships with my interviewee. I work principally on command, people tell me erotic stories and I embroide an erotic and intimate “object” for them. It feeds my imagination, and thereby the relation we have is not just client/artist, I have not a role of psychologist, it’s something other, something really precious.

What does the sacred Eroticism mean to you, what have you learnt about it and how can it be a positive and important aspect for sexuality?

For me there is a clear link between the religious and the sexual extase. This moment when you leave your body and your social rules. It’s like a transe you can see in religious rituals. It was present in my mind since a really long time but it took all its meaning when I was in Mexico. There, religious and pagan beliefs cohabits constantly, as does life and death. On the other hand, I perceived a strong link between feminism and relation to the earth, even in the way of living agriculture for example… All is linked and all is ritualised. It was a big learning for me and I have reclaimed that in my life and my artistic work. In my serie “Erotismo Sagrado” (Sacred Eroticism), I have hijacked famouses figures of Mexico (the guadaloupe virgin, death, lucha libre…) making them erotic. It was not to schock but to signifiate that Mexico is an erotic culture in its hot food, in its rituals, in its colors… but despite that Mexicans might seem reserved or shy over their sexuality, surely due to the overwhelming presence of the catholique religion and the education. But here in Europe, people think they are more open and free over that, but it’s often false.

In your drawings you approach the body and its nudity. What do these representations mean to you?

Well, I think it’s important to not see nudity like a tabou and not compare. To accept that we’re all different, we’re not perfect and see this difference like a power. If you look at your body in a miror like if you look a landscape for exemple, all seems different. It’s less individual, and when you accept its “imperfections” : Waw, your relations in general are so much simpler.

Which is for you the importance of having this communication channel to approach nudity?

The embrodery is an interesting medium because people are always impressed by the technic and the time one dedicate to it. Through embrodery, it’s easier to “seduce” shy people and lead them to confess sexual stories. I’m often touched because when I show my work around, people from very different backgrounds might get interested. Children are fascinated by the colors and the atmosphere (I use a lot of shinny threads), old people are impressed by the technic and finally the topic is not such a problem. And my “public” is really mixte, and that’s a thing I’m really proud of, cause I want to explode the walls.

You are a naked model for drawing classes. Naked modeling for the representation of the body, the promotion of the female way, of something natural, is all of this fundamental and important to you? What does your openness and your way of dealing with your body represent?

I have a real affection for this work. It’s interesting for my performance researches, to feel the limites of the body and to expose nudity in an other context than intimity to exorcice it. Nudity is the most natural thing we can do and however, it’s just so ridiculous how we can be puritans about it ! I live it like a ritual, this short moment when one remove one’s clothes, when one passes from the dressed state to the naked. And, for sure, this job helps me to asumate the body with its particularities and with what the beauty standards call “imperfections”.

You make reference to your work as a feminist act. How essential is it, the fight for women, their sexuality and their sexual freedom?

When I say “feminist”, indeed I talk about free women assuming fully their sexuality. Because I think the feminin sexuality has always been over interesting, while diresgarded, overshown, while hidden. Women have to reclaim their pleasure, they have to know their body, to understand their vulva and vagina. But for, to be “feminist” is wider than that. It’s more about accepting all kinds of pleasures, desirs, all sexualities, all fantasm and not squaring things or thinking in silos. And also in this way I include men. We all have feminity and masculinity in our bodies and it’s important to feel and play with it. For exemple I really like to be a woman with a curvy body but I’m really attracted by gay sexuality and sometimes I feel like a men inside but I don’t want to change my sexe, I like to cultivate those two parts, or more?

How do you get across this feminist activism and encourage women to follow that lead through your work on eroticism/sacred eroticism and sexuality?

I harvest stories and try to give them back through a constant dialogue, without any judgements.

You have studied eroticism, sacred eroticism, you compare cultures, and drawn on sexuality in your work since 2011. How did all this knowledge helped in the evolving of your sexuality and in your openness to the erotics, the sacred and pornography?

Yes, when I look back I’m a bit impressed about how I’ve evolved, I think it’s really clear when I watch my work from 2011 till this year. Then I was 21, and though sexuality or masturbation have been quite present during my life, it’s clear we evolve, and our look at it changes from 13, 21, 27, 45, 80 years, and I’m really curious to learn about the sexuality of old people. Specially when you’re a whoman, there is a lot of transformations in your body, it does of course change your sexuality.

You refer that the practice of stitching with a needle is just like penetration. You have started by pillows and underline its intimate and object-masturbation qualities. You also start from objects, sentences, costumes to “eroticize” and “sexualize” it.
In which way are these steps and acting channels aiming at a naturalization of sexuality and eroticism fundamental?

Well, through my imagination, my art and in my life I try to apply it, there are no walls. I can think about sexuality just opening my fridge. And even if I deal with serious topics, I try to make them funny light and delightful…

Thanks for your time, and all the best wishes for your work.

Project Let’s Talk About Sexuality

Interview: Pedro Marques

Translation and Correction and: Joana Correia


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