The irony is not lost on me that I would stumble over Matilde Digmans Shadow work podcast during the first lockdown and before even realizing she was also an artist and a pretty unapologetic one on top, which comes to no surprise given the name of the podcast. Her pottery cat sculptures are clearly in charge, with a smile and teeth so dominant and in your face, they’re like the Cheshire cats’ charmingly twisted cousins, clearly no fucks given whatsoever, excuse my French.
In other words, they are Matilde´s creation and only and unmistakably hers.
All them Shadows ..
Even in normal circumstances in this realm and reality that we call life, the idea of shadow* work is met with respect by those who know what it actually entails and means, even if in the growing spiritual online community it often seems to be more associated with a daring but somehow heroic, romantic and mysterious undertaking.
In actual fact, however, it is a daunting, very unglamourous and difficult process that has more to do with blood, sweat and tears than to ascending from the dark into love and light, sorry peeps!
*The shadow is a term coined by the Swiss writer and psychiatrist C.G. Jung (1875 –1961) and it refers to both our deepest wounds and the parts of ourselves that we repress or deny.
So, in hindsight Matilde Digman’s expression of her creativity as an outspoken artist (and woman) in combination with her podcast seems like the perfect remedy for this pressure cooker of a year.
This year of 2020 which turned out to be – and remains – a nonstop dark night of the soul rollercoaster, worthy of the name.
So we thought it would be a good time to put our signature questions to Matilde – while we are holding on to whatever is left of the year and while we go on learning the hard way to breathe through it all and to let go of the illusion of being in control.
Yeah, let that shit got!
But first things first. How we got to know Matilde’s work is an example of the endless possibilities of making new connections and finding artists and creatives we vibe with through the wonderful world of the Internet.
Meaning, in this case, that I found her through another artist I´ve been following for some years now and really respect for her beautiful and unique drawing style and point of view, the L.A. based illustrator Theresa Baxter aka Reesabobeesa on this social network we simultaneously despise and depend on.
Obviously, Matilde Digman was thinking along the same lines, as she invited Theresa as a guest on her podcast.
And so I listened to their delightfully unscripted honest exchange and conversation about rebellious vulnerability touching topics like body neutrality, the conditioning of women to be small, wanting success as an artist, eating disorders, running an art studio, sexuality, to owning your own grandeur, society´s lies and the void of the art world, doing it before you´re ready, going into discomfort, fear of committing to bigger projects, art school killing your passion, letting your subconscious work, being a weird kid and playing a game with the universe …
yes, that’s more than just a lot of hashtags here mind you!
Illustration by Theresa Baxter
Embracing the darkness within
You started a while ago the shadow work podcast that sounds very catharsis like – why did you choose this name?
Because I really got into shadow work in the Jungian sense – I believe that in order to be whole psychicly we have to identify and out our shadow and integrate it in ourselves – I’m working on that on many different levels, and the podcast is one of the outlets – I hope that by having these really honest conversations about the stuff we don’t usually talk about because it’s shameful I can take part in unblocking artists and helping us all see that we are one and that our struggles are mostly the same.
Did the original purpose or approach of the podcast change after a while?
Yes it did – the podcast started out as Rules Radio – but the more conversations I had, the more
I realised that I was interested in the darker more shadowy aspects – the stuff we don’t usually talk about, but yet all experience.
Are you still running?
In the episode with Reesa as your guest you were brutally honest and open about your struggle until you started calling yourself an artist and acknowledging your creativity and work which was connected to your father who was an artist too but also battled alcoholism. Did your view on your father, his work and yourself as an artist change while working on the podcast?
That’s a tricky question.
I think with regards to my dad, now I’m focusing more on the good times we had creating together, than on all the chaos that was around too – he actually taught me a lot about standing with my own beliefs and not accepting society’s bullshit programming, but all that got overshadowed by his drinking and the pain it caused me growing up.
Now, as I reflect on him, I see him as politically engaged, anticapitalist, an artist and activist in everything he did and overall a free spirit.
And I see that I am the same. I’ve stopped running from who I am now.
I think he was extremely sensitive and so am I – I feel everything so strongly and sometimes it’s overwhelming – I think that’s why we both struggled with addiction to numb out our emotions.
But that’s also what makes us artists.
Matilde Digmann, photo credit: Marie Hald
Was there a particular moment you remember that ultimately inspired you to become an artist?
I think it was in my soul from birth – I tried so hard NOT to be an artist for so many years, but it never really worked for me to live an inauthentic life. In the end I got sick from trying to keep up the facade. I’m very inspired by Frida Khalo, Meret Oppenheim, Andy Warhol, Simon Hanselmann and Tarantino.
Addiction & Spirituality
Which of these elements (space, air, fire, water, earth) would you choose in relation to your practice and/or yourself, and why
I don’t know that I could divide them or choose just one – in my ceramics I’m connected to earth and fire, but I love the change that water brings.
Do you consider yourself spiritual and how does this feed into your work?
YES. I’m in a 12 step program which is essentially a spiritual practice.
My spirituality is everything to me – I channel my work and I am in service to a higher power in everything I do.
Is there a book or author that stimulates and inspires you?
Oh yes! A course in Miracles, Letting Go by David R. Hawkins and everything by Julia Cameron – I have them as audio books and they get me through the day.
Aesthetics and Process aside, which emotion you want to trigger with your work and why?
That’s a tricky question. I don’t create work to trigger emotions – I think my work is a mirror for people to project their own sense of the world and I know I can’t control what people see or interpret in my work.
The same piece can generate completely different emotions in different people.
BUT I aspire to tell my story (specifically about being a blocked artist and an addict) in the hope that people will recognise something in themselves and perhaps find a way out of addiction and a way to higher power.
I’m deeply invested in giving back to my community and unblock other artists simply by doing what I love and being open about my path and my struggle.
If you could, what would you change in the art market?
Meh, the art market. Well, I would cancel out capitalism all together. I used to work at a gallery and I saw how nobody really cared about the art – instead it was all about who was at the shows, what works sold and for what amount – about who was gonna be the next hot thing. That’s all just glamour and not what I’m interested in at all.
Please tell us what you are currently working on and what you are looking forward to?
I’m working on a 400 page graphic novel and the second season of the Shadow Work Podcast. I do have a residency coming up in Mexico where I’ll be spending 4 months in the beginning of 2021.
The future is .. ?
Follow Matilde on Instagram and check out her website!
Author: Esther Harrison