Aina’s family background has a compelling yet somehow grief-related story behind it. Switzerland ended up being a new home for her grandparents, who had to immigrate from Italy and Spain in the ’50s. Born and raised trilingual, Aliotta’s multicultural family educated her with a strong sense of nationality but “despite being the third generation since my grandparents settled in Switzerland, we still encounter identity conflicts in our family. I understand the sense of injustice they had to feel when they immigrated and I realize the privilege I have to be here,” she tells me. This fact lead her to cultivate a strong ability to debate expressively, politically, and openly about everything at home, and outside in the real world.
The burning need to express herself attracted her to the art world from a young age. She tried it all: from contemporary to hip-hop dancing, learning how to play the piano, acting on a theatre stage, and painting. Aina is the daughter of two lawyers, who always insisted — contrary to what most people would think, — that she keep her mind and body active through the arts, as they believed it would help her gain social flexibility. “In general, I chase that feeling of freedom just by taking my bike or going for a swim. Even in sexuality, I love to lose myself a little. And that same feeling can be found within the arts too, especially when, like me, you don’t aim for total perfection. And by not aiming for perfection, I refer to the constant overthinking and overcorrecting of one’s work,” an attitude which is often found in people’s work approach, especially in the art world.
She confesses to me that in her early teens she realized that the way she was raised was very privileged, almost elitist. Traveling a lot, witnessing different cultures and lifestyles encouraged her to break into politics. “Thirteen was a very important age for me, as I reached a political awakening. I began questioning my identity and distanced myself from the typical feminine look towards a more androgynous one.” Aina later found herself embraced by the queer community and at ease as she discovered her bisexuality. She understood how important it is to talk about one’s mental health and sexuality, to show it, and not be afraid to put words to it. The queer-feminism world opened up before her, eventually becoming the political ideology best suited to her principles. “Through politics, I defined the kind of woman I wanted to be, and how it is crucial for my art as well. Being a woman myself, I must take up more space and use it to say what I want. Art gives you the possibility to find the right space, to take it and adopt it as one wishes. It is a much safer and universal place.”
In fact, the theatre became one of the safest artistic places where she could be active. Aina tells me how she always wanted to become an actress in the film industry, but after all, theatre was the place which stole her heart. “The most beautiful thing about the theatre I acted in was that they welcomed me without making any kind of remarks or judgment, everything was tolerance and acceptance.” This form of art was eye-opening for her, as she came to understand that theatre can be political, social, and cultural — in other words — that “space” that you can take and use, as she mentioned before. However, what I find so brave is the ability to expose oneself completely. “There is no place for insecurity on stage. You are obliged to accept not only yourself but the people in your company as well. Sometimes it is hard to work with certain people, yet you still have to and that is where tolerance kicks in.” With a proud smile, Aina tells me that no matter how extreme and different people may be, that is what normal looks like to them.
Aina is now studying Art Education in Zurich, so I wanted to know what her work ethic is in her artistic development. “Whatever the project, it is always personal. I always look inside myself first.” She states that it is not the final result, but the thought process that matters. For Aina, every artwork is an ongoing process to getting to know herself better, but it is sometimes very energy-consuming. In her first concrete expressive work, concretized in the book “In Allen Löchern Lauernd” (translation from German “Lurking in All Holes”) she illustrates and writes poetry as a means to confront herself with her once-obsessive arachnophobia. “At the time I was enduring confrontation therapy, and towards the end of the sessions, I understood that my fear of spiders had nothing to do with spiders at all, but instead it was all projections of my insecurities. This book was like the once-and-for-all overcoming of that fear.”
WHAT IS YOUR VISION?
“I envision a more connected and sincere world, in which people talk more openly about mental health and personal issues. I want more solidarity and embracement, and as much appreciation for art as today’s lust for money and success.” And I agree with that.
To conclude, although Aina’s work may seem a little self-referring — as she admits in a giggling smile, — she hopes one day to be able to concretize the techniques she now uses to embrace all of herself and turn them into written theories that could help society or even better support people who don’t have the same possibilities as she did.