The Alchimia Conversations: Federica Sala and Luca Pozzi

– from a WhatsApp double stream of consciousness –

Alchimia is happy to present The Alchimia Conversations, a series of dialogues between artists, using different media and formats. The first in the series is a light-hearted chat between two Milan based artists, Federica Sala and Luca Pozzi. One dealing with jewelry and the other with the visual arts, both are interested in similar topics, concerning the chemical properties of materials and playing with human perceptions.

Find visual records of their latest solo shows after reading this text: Federica Sala’s True Lies: A Collection of Oxymorons at Září Gallery in Prague (November 16 – 20, 2015) and Luca Pozzi’s The Messengers of Gravity at FL GALLERY  in Milan (October 9 – December 18, 2015).

Federica Sala: Do you understand what reality is? Have you ever questioned it?

 Luca Pozzi: Of course I don’t…how could I fully understand something that includes myself? I’m part of reality…and I intuitively have an understanding of it, but I wouldn’t be able to describe it… Reality is a nice world without boundaries. Do you like boundaries?

 F.S. A lot. Boundaries attract me and ask me to go beyond them. I love the sensation you feel while playing with them. It’s a kind of vertigo feeling. And you?

 L.P. I love to observe how they move! Liquidity, flexibility and transition from a phase to another are very important elements in my research. When realizing a shape for example, considering its life before everything changes…when things remain true to theirselves over time….boundaries are everywhere and they are constantly interacting. I think that my consideration of reality as something without boundaries is because I see it as the emerging product of thousand of uncontrolled interactions.

How do you decide the shape of a jewellery piece?

 F.S. In my work shapes are strongly related to the material I’m using and its techniques. I can’t really trace a line between concept and materials. They are interconnected, and strongly part of how I think during the realization of my pieces. I like to show the hidden possibilities of materials. It’s almost like taking something that already exists and transforming it into something different that was there too, but in a kind of unconscious way.

Do materials affect you and your work? What comes to your mind when I say “materiality”?

 L.P. I see materials in terms of quantity of degrees of freedom: I am interested in the differences say between a dolphin, a tree, wood, glass and diamonds from the perspective of their micro scale behaviours. But we also have to deal with very pragmatic problems…you need a certain type of knowledge to transform raw materials and things into sophisticated ones. Materials are more than they appear. I always work by keeping in mind this assumption.

 F.S. It’s exactly the same for me. It’s about finding a balance between the knowledge you have learned because someone taught you it and your personal perception of things. In my work, metals are the functional materials – even if it sounds weird when speaking about jewellery! They are just technical elements acting as support and infrastructure for the pieces. It’s like the skeleton of a body. The skin, their external appearance, is the pieces’ peculiar elements. You’re external aspect is what strikes people, but you can’t live without your inner parts. I see my pieces as bodies where everything is necessary for them to live, but their outer look is what really makes them different and unique. Their external qualities are what people will remember of them.

L.P. Where are the metal compounds in your glass pieces?

F.S. Closures, findings, clasps, joints…they are all realized with different types of metals, chosen as a consequence of the skin’s qualities of the pieces. Some pieces of glass are heavier than others and need a harder metal, some others are more delicate and need specific protective structures. Some pieces are transparent others are not…this is one of the most difficult parts of the work: I’m looking for something coherent and there’s just one skeleton suitable for each skin.

L.P. It’s interesting that you’ve mentioned metal as a support to other protagonists. Metal becomes a kind of functional network for your pieces.

F.S. Which are the difficult parts in your work? Is it complicated to explain them to an audience? Every time I have to explain my work I need to mention very specific issues that are hardly understood by everyone – philosophy, chemistry… – and I become frustrated. For this reason I’ve tried to “clean” the explanation, by trying to simplify it…but sometimes I have the sensation that something gets lost in this process. How much are references important for you? If you would have to shortly explain your work to me, what would you say?

 L.P. The explanation for me is another component of an artistic practice and it’s not just a description. You don’t have to feel frustrated, you’re not looking for understanding, you’re sharing your vision, and a vision can’t always be understood. A vision is a projection. You don’t need to know how transistors work to watch a TV series. Both of us are working on something that can’t be intuitively experienced, so it’s a little bit more  complicated. I’m working on different layers of communication; one is more aesthetic and the other more cryptic. I don’t worry when I start talking about “quantum gravity” and people get lost…I’m just performing my vision. Einstein once said that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

 F.S. While looking at my work, you once asked me if I knew the Black Holes Theory? I don’t, but do my pieces suggest this to you?

 L.P. Mmmm….I don’t remember. It’s weird, as that’s not a theory…maybe I was just trying to distract you!…But It’s true…I see some connections between black holes and your black pieces, especially when you mirror them. What is their name?

 F.S. The mirrored ones belong to my first work with glass. That’s the Eco collection. The ones you saw this summer in my studio are part of my new body of work with glass and stones: True Lies.

L.P. Are you talking about the transparent series with all the surreal colours, looking almost like bubble soap? With these stones that seem to be trying to crack them down, but instead remain trapped?

F.S. Yes! Those ones.

L.P. Yes! I love them! There’s fragility and strength at the same time!

F.S. What are the first things that come to your mind while looking at them?

L.P. Three things that overlap: spin foam*, Kryptonite, multiverse theories.

F.S. I really don’t know anything about these types of things…just Kryptonite!

L.P. Research/Google Images/multiverse: have a look and I’m sure you’ll discover even much more connections than me!

* In physics, a spinfoam or spin foam is a topological structure made out of two-dimensional faces that represents one of the configurations that must be summed to obtain a Feynman’s path integral (functional integration) description of quantum gravity. It is closely related to loop quantum gravity. (from Wikipedia)

Luca Pozzi (b. 1983) is a visual artist based in Milan. He specialized in 3D modelling and informatic systems at Albert Stainer institute and he obtained his MFA from the Brera Accademy of Fine Arts in Milan. Due to his multidisciplinary approach he has been working since 2009 as Guest Artist with the Albert Einstein Institute in Golm, the Faculté de Science de Luminy; the Penn State University and the Perimeter Institute of Waterloo, Ontario. For more information on Luca’s work please visit:

Federica Sala (b. 1986) is a jewelry artist based in Milan. She holds an MFA in Contemporary Jewellery and Body Ornament from Alchimia in Florence (2015) tutored by the Mexican jewellery maker Jorge Manilla, and a BFA in Fashion Design from the Politecnico in Milan (2011) tutored by the Italian anthropologist Eleonora Fiorani and the Italian artist Giorgio Vigna. From 2010 to 2012 she has been the assistant of Giorgio Vigna and her work has been exhibited at the Mad Museum in New York, at the American Glass Weekend, at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston and SOFA in Chicago, among the others. For more information on Federica’s work please visit:

All photos of Federica Sala’s exhibition are realized by Eva Šafránková



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