Monday, November 8, 2021
Claudia Fontes is an Argentinean artist based in England. Her work was highlighted on #WomensArt Twitter today:
Foreigners are a series of small figures, which I began to make in response to the English landscape that surrounds me and to my cultural understanding of it as a foreigner. These small-scale sculptures, resembling collectable china figurines, are the size of my hand. The choice of scale, the material, and the care I put in their fragile construction are an attempt to denaturalize and question the validity of the word “foreigner”, used popularly in England in a pejorative and discriminatory sense. These figurines depict processes of metamorphosis and hybridisation amongst the creatures I share this particular bio-political system with: trees, plants, rocks and fungi.
“Foreigner” and “Forest” share the same root, “foris”, which means outside -outside the house, the city, the country, and outside of our own understanding of the world as humans. Apparently the experience of weighing something in our hand is crucial in the formation of concepts in our mind. There is this hypothesis that attempts to explain the size of Neolithic figurines, that says that they could have had the specific function of creating the concept of ‘person’ in our mind at the very point when we started exploiting our environment.
With this in mind, my “Foreigners” are an attempt to put out there the question of what it is to be a person in the forest and with the forest, rather than outside of it.
Just seeing the photograph on Twitter, I would have never suspected the small scale of the work. I hope to see it in person someday.