exploring art and writing

The Unseen and the Unspoken: Carolina Vasquez.

In Fine Arts, Interview, New Media on January 7, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Visit Carolina’s website at www.carolisides.com or Twitter her @carolisides.

Image still from 'Farren of the Sea'.

Carolina Vasquez is an artist of many talents. When browsing her website the viewer will encounter an impressive array of multi-media artworks, be they stop-motion animation, digital video, theatre projection, serial web streaming or drawing – and the list goes on. What with such an eclectic practice that spans the introspective and personal life of the artist alongside numerous group-based productions, Vasquez produces artwork that is ultimately imbued with a fervent sense of human narrative and a strong community spirit.

Born in the Dominican Republic and moving to Miami at a young age, Vasquez first expressed her ideas using black and white photography and spent her school-day afternoons developing prints in the darkroom. This led to experiments with various photographic techniques, from cyanotypes and stereoscopic photography, to appropriating more unconventional materials such as glass and wood to print her images on. The progression of using still images to those that formed movement therefore seemed a logical progression; Vasquez began with flickbooks and from this advanced towards digital video. She went on to explore her practice professionally at Florida State University in Tallahassee and at Slade School of Art in London.


Vasquez is concise about the concepts and themes that drive her to produce artwork: “A central theme for my work is people – who they are, where they’re from and how they communicate.” This is reflected in her body of work, be it the fictitious habits of a young boy in the animation Farren Of The Sea, in the Youtube ‘video diary’ of hippy musician Hatty Rainbow or in the documentation of Malawians in Play On Sound. Another of Vasquez’s videos, 25 Years in Six Minutes and Fifteen Seconds, is a digital accumulation of the artist’s life and the people surrounding her; it is a documentation of one person’s existence, allowing the viewer to absorb numerous aspects of her own life. As Vasquez herself states, “I’m always interested in people’s memories and stories and all my work relates directly or indirectly to this”.

Image still from 'Play On Sound'.

A return to stop-motion animation with a strong emphasis in the sound design is the means by which Vasquez is currently expressing themes of ‘the unseen and the unspoken’ as a Masterclass Artist for the Women’s Arts Association. However, it is her fascination with memory and narrative that has led her to begin the project based around already existing, more familial environments rather than specialized animation sets:

“…This time I want to delve into the small worlds that already exist – the corners of a room, small spaces under the stairs, or even a lonely tree in a field that usually gets overlooked or unseen. I will create a set that blends into the existing environment and make it a liveable space for my character”.

These unsung dimensions are the basis for the animation’s narrative and will be expounded by equally unusual audio; obscure noises that pervade spaces but are commonly ignored. The interactions of Vasquez’s protagonist with these seemingly foreign sounds are intended to emphasise the unseen and unspoken worlds that only ever exist as background, brought necessarily to our attention via wonderfully contradictory digital means; this perhaps is where the fascinating nature of such a project will come into its own: with the omnipresent nature of digital video – and subsequently the internet – allowing a wider audience to experience the previously unseen and unspoken.

Image still from 'Merry Christmas', one of the animation shorts created by Vasquez for the Women's Arts Association.

In addition to previously being commissioned as a photographer and designer for Westminster Abbey and the Saatchi gallery in London, Vasquez has also contributed to several localised, community-based projects; as Project Manager for Bloc’s DIY Kenya she was heavily involved in organising Welsh Artists travelling to Kenya to take part in Makers Faire Africa during Summer 2010. Other video projects include theatrical trailers for ‘Llwyth’ and ‘Measure for Measure’ Sherman Cymru, Strike 25 for theatre company Mess Up The Mess, alongside working with the CBBC on OOglies and various primary schools to workshop innovative and educational animations.

There is a lot more to Carolina Vasquez’s career than the artworks, videos and workshops that have been discussed above; the experimental and diverse nature of her artistic practice is reflected in the numerous collaborative and community-based projects that she initiates and takes part in. She is a multi-media artist in the true sense of the term.

Visit Carolina’s website at www.carolisides.com or Twitter her @carolisides


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