A glimpse into the mind of gif collage artist Isabel Chiara and how she brings surrealism and humor into her work from conception to implementation.
Citizen Brooklyn: Your gifs are incredibly humorous, involving the integration of classical art and modernism. What is your creative process when it comes to deciding how to construct a gif?
I have always found sense of humor very useful in life; in this I follow Katherine Mansfield. A sense of humor also gives you strength and enables you to communicate more directly and informally, challenging conventions—another reason why I tend to work with classical pieces of art. For me, the creative process is linked to my lifetime interest in iconic characters as part of my visual upbringing. I take them out of their time/context and use surrealism to make them the key players in current situations. For instance, whenever I see the face of a Renaissance Madonna I wonder if she went through similar gender issues that women face today, their hopes and ambitions.
CBK: Along the same lines, how do you create the gifs? Collages are created by the assemblage of various media—do you create the collage first and then edit it on the computer later on?
Often I develop the gif from an initial collage, as in Le Voyeur or Multi-orgasmic, both crying for movement. Most of my works are thought out as gifs right from the beginning of the creative process, using collage and handmade, I tend to elaborate photogram by photogram, that gives me control over the movement and the greatest satisfaction of the artistic process.
CBK: What drew you to use vintage pictures in your work?
Vintage images help me to visually balance the work, they are like a thread that links all the different parts of the work of art, taking into account that they come from various media (video, photographs, prints, paintings).
CBK: Your ‘George Clooney is Inside’ gif was recently awarded Best Gif Collage at The Giphoscope Award 2014. Is there any particular reason why you chose George Clooney?
I always keep that expression “George Clooney is Inside” when I see his TV advertisement. I have checked that it happens to other women as well and we think that the advertisement industry has made a full hit by placing this amazing movie star and person in women’s heads. Also, I adore him!
CBK: How has your background in plastic art influenced your craft with collages?
I went through various creative phases such as drawing, painting, sculpture and animation until I finally got to collage as my key mode of artistic expression. Animation is perhaps the technique that made me think of the potential of using other people’s images through cut and paste. A few years ago I made two short animation movies, the first one inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights; the second one entitled Shot, based on a combination of short, copyright-free video inserts, also on various illustrations and fragments from classical art prints.
This has been for me both a hugely important learning process and also became a search for my own art language and means of expression that every artist longs for. I was always interested in what others wanted to tell me and using that narrative to tell my own story.
CBK: Who are some artists that you draw inspiration from?
I have always felt passionate about the work of Baroque painters; those great masters help me compose every artistic image, their level of detail is amazing. I also take inspiration from the critical view of American film-noir. Some artists have inevitably resonated more strongly than others, and been more influential in directing my artistic journey, such as Terry Gilliam, Josep Renau, Hamilton, Rauschenberg, Schwitters, Shapiro, Domonkos and others.
CBK: Your gifs incorporate some interesting themes, including sexuality, surrealism, and mysticism. Is there a specific message or messages that you attempt to evoke through your art?
You are right; I am interested in sexuality and mysticism because they are often used as power weapons. Through sexuality I can communicate with the viewer on gender issues made more evident in Spain by the current financial crisis.
Advertisements continue to treat women as objects, creating product and behavior patterns that seek to make us uniform. Mysticism seeks to make people abide by a reality without questioning it. The current crisis has reminded us of the power of that old prophet called market, which exacerbates inequality.
Surrealism works for me as the most coherent art form to highlight my hopes and concerns.