‘I am fascinated by how creative transpositions amongst
language systems, animals, plants, raw materials and
man-made objects facilitate endless opportunities for
meaningful encounters amongst all sorts of agencies.’
– Claudia Fontes
Foreigners are a series of small, palm-sized porcelain sculptures. They depict two or more figures, wrapped in a passionate embrace. The visible intimacy of this embrace provides the sculptures with a certain frailty. This sense of vulnerability is further emphasized by Fontes’ choice of scale and the visible porousness of the sculptures. Fontes started to make the series in response to the English landscape, working with porcelain extracted from English quarries to appropriate a piece of England for herself. She further explains: The choice of scale, material, and the care I put in its 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. The figurines depict processes of metamorphosis and hybridisation amongst the creatures we 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. These 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. Soon enough, the individual figures evolved into families of human-like figures embracing each other, merged into a coral or foam-like matter, as if becoming one.
2015 tot 2021 – porcelain sculptures, 25/30 cm
Courtesy of the artist
In her practice, Claudia Fontes is after ‘the poetical and political that emerge from making things and gathering with others.’ She considers herself as a medium for matter: ‘I believe that being an artist is being a host: we can only prepare the space for things to be and to make themselves present.’ Her engagement with the possibilities of sculpture as a medium, through which she effectively explores questions of scale and relation, is a constant throughout her career.
The works of Claudia Fontes can be found in the collections of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, the Museum for Latin American Art of Buenos Aires, the Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Rosario, as well as private collections in Latin America, the United States, Europe and Australia. Her work has been presented worldwide in both solo as well as group exhibitions. In 2017, she represented Argentina at the 57th Venice Biennale with her installation The Horse Problem. In 2018 she was one of seven artists-curators at the 33rd Sao Paulo Biennial for which she created the section The Slow Bird. In 2020 she was nominated for the High Line Plinth and was a finalist for the Percent for Arts NYC‘s commission at Bush Terminal in Brooklyn.
Claudia Fontes studied arts at the National School of Fine Arts Prilidiano Pueyrredón in Buenos Aires, and Art History at Buenos Aires University. She was awarded grants to develop her practice at Taller de Barracas in Buenos Aires and to be a resident artist at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, amongst others. Claudia Fontes lives and works in Brighton, England and is represented by Cecilia Brunson Projects in London.