INTERVIEW WITH CLAUDIA CASARINO
*Featured photo: Trastornos del Sueño, Copyright Claudia Casarino
Traduzione a cura di Elena Redaelli
Claudia Casarino was born in Paraguay in 1974. She studied Visual Arts at the National University of Asuncion, later continuing her studies in New York and London. At the core of her art practice sits an awareness of her own body and gender-related discriminatory dynamics, the feminine space compressed between systemic violence and stereotype pressure challenging to eradicate.
Casarino is one of South America’s leading artists: since 1998, her works have been regularly exhibited in prestigious international venues such as the MERCOSUR Biennial, the Havana Biennial, the Tijuana Biennial, the Busan Biennial, the Cuenca Biennial, the Curitiba Biennial, the Algeria Biennial, the Venice Biennial and the Santiago and Puerto Rico Triennials, to name a few. She has participated in galleries’ exhibitions, institutions, museums, and cultural centres in Asunción, Santiago, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Amman and London.
Claudia, when did you realize that your path was that of art?
It was an organic process, not a decision. It evolved into me becoming an artist.
I went into art school in 1996, the year it was founded in Paraguay (as part of the National University) but my interest was Art History.
Pynandi (ni puta, ni diosa, ni reina), Copyright Claudia Casarino
The different variations of women’s clothing are the modules of many of your works. What is the meaning of this choice?
As a woman artist working mainly on some of the issues we face and cross our stories and bodies I find clothing to be a very eloquent medium. Our bodies have carried the weight of politics and ideologies and female garments’ history shows us exactly that.
Clothes cover our bodies but reveal so much more.
Using the tulle with its transparency is a technical or conceptual choice?
Both. Tulle is a kind of fabric often used in women’s garments in many rites of passage in Paraguay and other countries western, mainly catholic countries. It’s transparency helps me carry the message of invisibility of the many issues I often talk about.
El Otro Abrazo, Copyright Claudia Casarino
Your commitment to feminist issues is present in many of your projects. What was the one that most involved you?
I couldn’t choose as they keep appearing in the shape of family history, the news, and memories.
Environment, terricide, pandemic are themes that have inspired several of your works. What are the reflections that inspired them?
I’ve been working on those and other subjects for over 20 years because i think of he mas feminists issues as well.
Nude, Copyright Claudia Casarino
How much and how has your Paraguayan roots influenced your artistic career and your research?
In every possible way. Colonialism and its consequences, patriarchy and power, violence in its many forms, but also our language (guarani) and its way of explaining the world, our textiles and landscape.
Which of your works is the most autobiographical? How intertwined are the human and the artistic paths?
Most of it is. Some not my own, but my mother´s, my grandmother´s, my great grandmother´s or many other women in my family, on my mothers side. But as I often mention, its not just our story, it is common to many women in the global south.
Doble Desdoble, Copyright Claudia Casarino
You have exhibited in many countries of the world, in museums, public institutions and private galleries. What was the most exciting event of your career as an artist?
The solo exhibition at the Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It was my first solo exhibition at a Museum in Europe, and the first of a Paraguayan artist. It was an exciting and emotional path that I walked together with the curator, Gabriela Salgado, but I have another favorite show as well. In 2002 I was invited by Cristiana Colli to be part of a group exhibition at the MAM in Nuoro, where she was director back then. It was my first trip crossing the pond.
Also in consideration of the events of the last year, what do you think is the role of art and artists in contemporary society?
I can talk about my practice, my motivation, that is to shed some light to dark corners of our daily life. I am a privileged, hegemonic woman, but still facing challenges and carrying the history of previous generations of women in my family that didn’t have the opportunities of education and well being I have. I owe it to them. Things that were not talked about, things that were violently silenced and still are, they come out in the shape of hanging dresses every once in a while.