Haut Lecoeur, candid snapshots of the young Milanese artist’s intimate.
Beatrice Lezzi known as Haut Lecoeur’s artistic flair is something that’s persisted since childhood. The Milan-based artist presents a range of intimate photographic exchanges in the varying states of undress while she strives to tackle the dilemma of self-representation. The images taken by her employ unguarded moments with an honest eye. Beatrice’s photos draw the viewer into proximity with her subjects, so that skin and emotion are magnified. Leaving less time to consider (overthink) each pencil stroke, she turned towards photography for its quick dynamism. She has cultivated a tête-à-tête with those who look through her photographs.
Can you tell us, when was the first time you realized you wanted to become an artist? How did you establish your own artistic style?
I can’t tell when was the exact moment, but it has always been my “dream” since I was a child. When somebody asked me what I wanted to become in the future, my answer was always: “an artist”! The more I grew, the more this became something more conscious. I couldn’t help but think that the only thing that came naturally was expressing myself through many artistic forms. Regarding my style, it was not something that I established precisely, but I can say that the moment in which it took shape coincided with a phase of my life where I gained a greater awareness of myself as a woman and as a body. It has become a pivotal theme in my work. I find it necessary to focus my research on communicating this. Anyway, I’ve always tried to use a style that came directly from my inner perceptions and impressions of what I felt.
You have attended the LABA Arts Academy in Florence in Photography for your bachelor degree. What drew you to use photography as a medium for your work?
As I said, I’ve always felt an urge to express myself through visual arts, but I started by drawing. Then, during middle school, I got a little digital camera from my parents, and from that moment, I started documenting people around me and afternoons with friends. At the end of my high school studies, I got bored of this “superficial” use of photography that I had been doing, and I wanted it to go further to regain that artistic intent that I was feeling inside. So, together with a strong need to change the city and live apart from my usual life, it led to the decision to attend the Photography degree course in Florence. From that moment, there was only me, myself and my own mission to interiorize photography as a very personal mean of expression. By that time I couldn’t think of something else as a course of study for myself, and so that was that.
What was the starting point in which you have decided to apply yourself as the subject of your intimate self-portraits and photographs?
Like most girls during adolescence, I had troubles in accepting my body and myself as a person in the world. I used to attend dancing classes, but I quit because I couldn’t stand the view of myself in the mirror. I also realized that being photographed, even in casual group photos, caused me significant discomfort, I could not stand my face, my presence in general, so I preferred not to see myself. I became really shy, and I hated it. I knew I was being my own obstacle in experiencing life. So when I started the Academy, and I received the first assignments, I started using myself as a subject. I was both behind and in front of the camera. In the beginning, it was a way to overcome the fear of watching myself and also of being watched by others – professors and classmates. But then, once I gained confidence and consciousness, it became a journey through my skin. I started discovering myself in all my strengths and weaknesses. I undressed myself because being naked felt to be the most natural thing to do to have the most sincere image of me, without any disguise. I fell in love with the body, the skin and all its traces. And this led me to a will of making sufferance, anger or even love, real, concrete, under the infinite levels of a photograph, rather than a narcissistic behaviour. If I didn’t feel as I feel, if I didn’t love as I love or suffer as I suffer, I wouldn’t be photographing, for sure.
Your photography often includes raw intimacy that seems like it came about spontaneously. Would you say that your work is always thoroughly planned, or do you ever shoot candidly?
My work is rarely planned. Unless I’m working for somebody else, then that I would prefer having something a little prepared, just to feel more secure.
When it comes to my work, we can say that I follow my impulses. They can be dictated by a mood, by a cut of light, a room, a piece of music, or an intimate feeling that I need to impress on the film.
And this immediately leads me to take the camera and shoot. In those moments, my brain is switched off. I think they are the only moments I don’t think at all, but I act like in a trance-state. And this gives me a unique adrenaline rush. I have always seen my way of working as a strength, but sometimes it causes me anxiety. As if I had to wait for the alignment of some aspects without which my art does not exist. I have a tattoo on my chest with the word “sentimento”, and that’s my gift and my damnation. It is always and in any case going with my feelings.
You work and live in Milan. How did this city spark your creativity?
Unfortunately, when it comes to Milan, I have some discordant feelings. I grew up here, but I never found my place. I’ve always felt in the wrong place and never understood. That’s why I moved to Florence during the Academy studies. In this moment of my life, I’m in a middle phase living here but willing to go away again. In the meantime, I’m trying to push myself and express myself in here. Currently, I’m not working for somebody in particular, but I’d like to merge my view of things with some other artist, such as musicians or feminist stylists.
What are your plans for the future with regards to new works and projects? Can you give us an insight into your plans for the coming years?
In the last year for personal reasons, I happened to be in Berlin a lot: I fell in love with the city and the people, and I decided to move there. So the next step in a few months will be moving there and taking my work forward. I want to continue working on the project I did for my BA thesis “Venus est__” – a study about women’s image taking Venus as a symbol of both idealization and oppression. Venus as a saint or a whore, Venus as a dead symbol or as something that needs to resurrect. These are questions always fervent in my mind. The BA thesis was just a starting point for something I believe will be the focus of my work for a long time from now on. I think I’ll take this year in Berlin to gain some work experiences and to work on my personal projects. After that, I would like to continue my studies. I’m particularly interested in the curatorial field.