ELISA INSUABehind the talent
Elisa Insua is a self-taught artist who lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
She originally studied business and economics, but decided that her passion was to become a visual artist as she seeks to express her cultural heritage.
Continue reading to find out more about Elisa’s journey in the industry.
HOW DID YOUR BACKGROUND IN ECONOMICS INSPIRE YOUR CREATIVE JOURNEY?
I started creating artwork with found objects at the age of sixteen, almost by chance, working with what I found at home. Two years later, when I started studying Economics and Business, I started realising what huge quantities of discarded objects were pointing out about our current economic system.
The amount of plastic thrown away, the piles of useless things we are buying that we didn’t really need, the perversity of programmed obsolescence, the artificial nature of consumers’ desires, and so on.
I then started to analyse my own behaviour and studying those topics in order to feed my artistic practice, and ended up using economics as a powerful tool and inspiration source for my creative work.
As Steve Jobs has famously said, “the dots are connected by looking backwards”.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FIRST SHOWCASE, WHAT WAS THE VISION BEHIND THIS COLLECTION?
My first series was named “Currency series” and it consisted of huge banknotes from different countries, all composed of discarded objects assembled together.
The idea was to question the downsides of late capitalism (ecological degradation, growing economic inequality, the ridiculous pursuit of endless economic growth, the dizzying advertising bombardment we face on a daily basis, etc.)
While at the same time inviting the public to rethink our current economic system and hopefully change it for the better.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT ANTI-CONSUMERISM?
I try to practice and preach a more ethical and responsible form of capitalism. Material goods are nice and should be enjoyed, but it is important that we first stop and analyse whatever it is we want to buy, and think:
How was this made? By whom? Was it a contaminating process? How will it be disposed of? And what about the packaging? Do I really need this?
I think we need to stop this blind automaton-behavior, where we buy compulsively following an endless chain of desires, one after the other. We must change this, not only because of the damage we are inflicting on the planet, but also for our own mental health and social well-being.
WHEN WORKING WITH A BRAND, WHAT SYNERGIES DO YOU LOOK FOR IN ORDER TO CRAFT ENGAGING CONTENT?
I choose to work with brands that are aligned with my vision, that are ethical and responsible for what they produce and sell.
I like to work with companies with minimum carbon-footprint, with biodegradable packaging, companies that sell good-quality products that can be used for many generations, brands which work with local raw materials and local workers, and which highly value good design, creativity and aesthetics.
I also like brands that respect the artists’ voice, who give free rein to our creativity for us to deliver the best content, we are capable of creating.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE SO FAR?
I think one of my favourite works of these last few years is “Disposable Cultural Consumption I”, also titled “From the Gold Standard of Fame to the Fiduciary Cirulation of Notoriety”. It is a huge assemblage / collage made with discarded consumer objects (190 x 140 cm) that I made specifically for my solo show “Virtual Vanitas” (exhibited at Usina del Arte / Buenos Aires, 2019).
The work portrays a real cover of a popular Argentinean magazine called GENTE where the cover girl states “I got breast surgery to feel sexier and more mature”. This work, which took me 30 days to create, was a comment on the new paradigm of “disposable” fame as described by Zygmunt Bauman.
My idea was to show how the cult of banality and the glorification of “ephemeral immortalities” are now a replacement for the aspiration of eternity.
The garbage used to create the work is a metaphor of the cultural trash that the general public consumes on a daily basis.
YOU OFTEN USE RECYCLED MATERIALS WITHIN YOUR CREATIONS, WHY DO YOU BELIEVE IN SUSTAINABLE ART?
I believe we need to shed light on how much we are buying to throw away shortly after. It is one of my goals that my art raises awareness about these issues, to open the eyes of the public and invite them to rethink and question how we are living, what are we surrounding ourselves with, what is the impact of our actions on the environment and on other people, what is the origin of our desires, and how can we “cure” our current economic system.
It is my dream that in a few years, I will have to create a different kind of work because there will no longer be any disposable packaging for our products: it will either be all compostable or recyclable.
HOW DOES YOUR LOCAL CULTURE AND HERITAGE INFLUENCE YOUR PORTFOLIO?
I grew up in Argentina and lived here my whole life, except for the last two years I spent in Madrid. Buenos Aires is a very creative city, with a thriving art scene. People manage to do amazing work with very little resources and very little funding, so I guess my working with discarded materials is no exception.
Argentina is a very unpredictable country, where laws and rules of the game change every year. I guess this has made Argentineans adaptive, resourceful, resilient and entrepreneurial. Chaos seems to feed our ideas.
Being away from Latin America has given me the chance to analyse my country and my continent with more perspective and objectivity.
On a more physical level, in Spain I have started working more with metallic objects than plastic (mainly because there is a gigantic junkyard that collects metal two blocks away from my studio!) and this has led me to rethink my work in relation to Spain’s economic exploitation of Latin America in the 16th and 17th centuries.
DO YOU HAVE ANY EXCITING UPCOMING PROJECTS PLANNED FOR 2020?
I have an interesting museum show opportunity in Argentina planned for the second half of the year, but is not yet confirmed.
Meanwhile, I am working on some artwork which will be part of a new restaurant that shall be opening in Miami in April.
AS A VISUAL ARTIST, HOW DOES INSTAGRAM SPARK YOUR INSPIRATION?
Instagram can be a really good source of inspiration but it can also be terribly distracting and time-consuming, so it is a double-edged sword. I try really hard to restrict my social-media time while working in the studio, sketching and planning future work.
I limit my use of Instagram to lunchtime and night-time, to relax and discover interesting content. I follow artists, designers, museums, interior designers, magazines, brands and people that I find inspiring and meaningful.
I don’t follow accounts of fashionable girls doing makeup tutorials or posting images of their breakfast in Positano.
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE MOTTO?
Always trust my gut and believe in the transformational power of creation.