Photographer Veronica Viacava on Sisyphus, capitalism and how to do nothing

Our Next Generation 2022 showcase shines a light on 22 outstanding graduates from around the globe, in seven creative fields. Here, we profile photographer Veronica Viacava, from the Royal College of Art, London

The Hour Of Consciousness, by Veronica Viacava
The Hour Of Consciousness, part I and II, by Veronica Viacava
(Image credit: Veronica Viacava)

In recent years, Veronica Viacava has divided her time between 12-hour shifts in a restaurant and studying at London’s Royal College of Art while it underwent large-scale renovation. 

Moving between these two environments left her constantly aware of the relentlessly repetitive nature of hospitality and construction work, and their common ground. Just as a waiter rarely gets to sit down and savour the food they serve, a construction worker is unlikely to inhabit the structures they build. Neither is likely to reap the fruits of their labour. 

Collecting and composing objects typical of the hospitality industry and construction sites, the Italian artist presents an alternative system in How To Do Nothing, using her camera as ‘a conscious tool that favours the disruption of the production cycle and the alienation of the worker vital to capitalism itself’. 

Cutlery forming still life photo by Veronica Viacava

What Makes Today Different From Yesterday

(Image credit: Veronica Viacava)

In her work, the ferocious production valued under late capitalism intentionally jars with the peaceful, and therefore economically useless, nature of resting objects. Albert Camus’ definition of the absurd and the Myth of Sisyphus have been important reference points. 

In the second chapter of her research, Viacava turns to the motif of the mountain (referencing the Myth of Sisyphus), working in colour. Describing this side to the work as ‘oneiric’, Vicava works with a hazy palate detached from reality and further disengages with the fast-paced harshness of life under late capitalism.

Performance, labour and stillness converge in Viacava’s practice, as she critiques then turns away from socioeconomic structures.

Alongside working in a restaurant, the Milan-based photographer is focusing on collaborative, community-orientated projects that support Italian artists.

Dream collaborator: ‘Peter Fischli & David Weiss. Within their work, they constantly reinvent and revisit the meaning of the objects they photograph; much like my work, the structures are almost child-like creations that open up new interpretations of the everyday.’

Photograph of feet outside on sunny day by Veronica Viacava


(Image credit: Veronica Viacava)

Photograph of stack of cushions by Veronica Viacava

Early One Afternoon

(Image credit: Veronica Viacava)


Our Next Generation showcase of outstanding new talents appears in the January 2022 issue of Wallpaper* (W*273). Subscribe today!

As Photography Editor at Wallpaper*, Sophie Gladstone commissions across fashion, interiors, architecture, travel, art, entertaining, beauty & grooming, watches & jewellery, transport and technology. Gladstone also writes about and researches contemporary photography. Alongside her creative commissioning process, she continues her art practice as a photographer, for which she was recently nominated for the Foam Paul Huf Award. And in recognition of her work to date, listed by the British Journal of Photography as ‘One to Watch’.