In today’s Meet Our Tutors series we spoke with a brand new tutor to CSM Short Courses, Matteo Augello. Matteo will be teaching a new Saturday and Sunday course, Developing Identities Through Clothes Weekend; here we discusses his practice, passions and explore the new course starting in December.
What are you most passionate about?
Performance. Any genre of performance, from opera to kabuki theatre, from ballet to voguing, from symphonic orchestras to electro sets. I love attending these events, discovering new movements, new sounds, new techniques: anything can be a stimulus for my research. What I am mostly passionate about is retrieving performance history. There are so many performances of which we have no audio-visual records and I love going on quests to find as much evidence as possible to get a physical sense of the performance: it is a very exciting detective work!
How did you come to work in your field / discipline?
I was trained as a fashion curator and historian in Milan and then in London, where I did an MA Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion. I then moved towards costume history, a shift triggered by my passion for performance, and I have now come to research fashion as a fundamental tool used in all forms of performances. I was associate curator of Costume in Action (chief-curator: Donatella Barbieri), a series of talks dedicated to costume during World Stage Design 2013 in Cardiff. I then worked as researcher at the Theatre and Performance Department of the V&A, where I contributed to the exhibition Opera: Passion, Power & Politics, curated by Kate Bailey in 2017.
Can you tell us more about your work?
I am devoted to the dissemination of knowledge, experimenting with the intersections between academic research and all forms of cultural fruition. Whether I am teaching, performing or putting together an exhibition, my aim is to tell stories from the past that I find fascinating and which I believe are still relevant today. In November 2017, I created a performance at the Victoria and Albert Museum on the history of female singers in opera – The Art of the Prima Donna. It was a combination of theatre, drag and academic lecture. Costumes played a fundamental part in it, as they were the only elements characterising the singers I impersonated. The format proved successful and I am currently working on a new show about women in flamenco.
What courses do you teach and who should attend them?
I teach a course called Developing Identities Through Clothing Weekend. The idea behind the course is that clothes are embedded with meanings, they suggest how we should move, they influence how others perceive us: we should all learn to master the communicative power of clothes. During the course, participants will reflect on their own identities, bodies and wardrobes, and through exercises they will experiment with how much their public persona can change with a change of clothes. The course is open to anyone who wants to learn about clothes: actors seeking to create a character, a businessman who wants to be more authoritative, stylists looking for a different approach, people who want to feel more comfortable with their looks.
Which piece of creative work, in any discipline, do you think everyone should see and why?
This is one of the hardest questions I have ever had to answer. There are so many works, and so many cultures, it would be impossible to make a pondered choice. I pick Caravaggio because I am from the same village in Northern Italy as the painter but mostly because he is one of the greatest artists of all time: the theatrical quality of his Chiaroscuro is just mesmerising. If you’re in London, you must visit The National Gallery, they have three Caravaggios: Boy Bitten by a Lizard, Salome Receives the Head of John the Baptist and The Supper at Emmaus.
Name a favourite book, film and song that you would recommend.
Ways of Seeing by John Berger is a great piece of art criticism and a masterclass in developing a new perspective. It was conceived as a documentary broadcast by BBC in 1972 and the scripts were later turned into a book.
The film The Women directed by George Cukor in 1939 is a hilarious comedy about the lives of women in New York and a celebration of fashion: all the gowns are by the costume designer Adrian, who created unique styles for each character.
Judy at the Carnegie Hall is the live album recorded by Judy Garland in 1961 at the famous concert hall in New York. This is truly a historical record as it captured Garland’s dramatic skills and unique voice in a thunderous performance.
What/where is your favourite London discovery?
Wilton’s Music Hall is London’s oldest operating music hall: the two bars have an atmosphere of speakeasies while the stage takes you back to a time of cabaret and society’s misfits pushing the boundaries of performance.
What advice would you give to aspiring creatives?
To be open to new suggestions and take every chance to get out of your comfort zones; you need to constantly seek new stimuli and elaborate them within your creative practice. Look for the unexpected, cherish your mistakes, nothing is unworthy of your attention and everything can be potentially inspiring.