Skin: A Land of Discovery
From the beginning to end, Marisa Caichiolo is as surprising as her creative capacity using human body, skin, photography and clothing, amongst other multiple means of expression.
Her visual work has travelled through a variety of concerns; however, it is currently focused on working and investigating the skin as a metaphor that allows her to create a poetical speech about the different problems and complexities related to identity. All this through a thorough exploration of the different artistic forms the author uses to express herself. Skin is a part of the body; it is a part of all of us even though it differs from one person to another. Every skin has its own story, past, present and future. Penetrating the epidermis and looking beyond is not an easy task: its interpretations and undertones are very fluctuating. Caichiolo appreciates this organ as a wrapper, as a map that separates our inner and outer worlds.
After restoring the Santa Vibiana Cathedral in center Los Angeles, the artist felt and found strong connections with the spirituality of her surroundings. She became interested in working on a very complex and mystical theme, expressed in the creation of dresses that work as an allegory to garments that cover and protect us (similar to the skins´ function). This way, the Vestidos Sagrados (2006-2011) installation was born: a title to a series of works that consist on seven large canvases that make the spectator wonder and reflect about different beliefs and religious practices. In every dress we find figurative and abstract representations that tell a story about the emergence of religious cosmogonies and the way they have influenced our current social context. Textures, tones and colors allow the reading of each piece, and work as gateways that transfer us to heaven and communicate us with our deepest wishes.
During our conversation on the 12th. Art Biennial of La Habana, my attention was powerfully drawn to the new videos and installations that she made for the Realidades Paralelas and Bajo la Piel, El Vacio exhibitions shown on the Qingdao Art Biennial (China) and the HEART Contemporary Art Foundation (Italy). On the Asian region she displayed a video, with the same name, were a Latin woman (Rachel Robles) puts on and takes off a burka (dress) used by Middle-East cultures, an attire that becomes an icon that she will repeat, from now on, on her production. The audiences acquainted with Arabic costumes can visually perceive the issue Marisa Caichiolo points out. She subtly transports us to the complex situation that migrants experience trying to fit in a culture that does not belong to them; a position she closely experimented when she arrived to the United States,” a country with habits and practices very different from her own”, the artist comments. Apparel, skin that covers us, becomes a symbol or footprint which is hard to erase, it is a mark that accompanies us in our trip through the universe. This is evidenced through the in situ work she carried out on the beaches of Qingdao, in which two large dresses- a black one, symbolizing women and a white one, symbolizing men- were shifted by wave currents through the whole space. The sea separates and unites us; it is an invisible barrier between the different systems of belief.
Marisa keeps inquiring and exploring her own territory in a very similar way, and broadens her series Bajo la Piel, el Vacio with new creations that stimulate our thinking. Her most recent piece, classified as a performance-installation by the artist, was executed during her stay at the Ifitry residence in Morocco. She works with a local model (SanaeArragas) in a both accurate and intelligent way that allows her to dialogue with her context and nod at the rest of the world. Black and white are once again present on the symbolic world that Marisa Caichiolo builds with every work, Dermis León describes. The elegant and sober result consists on a woman that is wearing a long dress that works as skin, shield and defense; she is slowly hovered through the waters of a swimming pool, a metaphor of the sea that unites us and makes us equal. Her emptiness disturbs us; her messages produce more questions than answers. That is what her work and contemporary art are about: having doubts, reflecting on and approaching every object or artistic action.
Marisa Caichiolo´s complete production manages to transmit even the smallest detail. Her philosophical, aesthetical, religious and artistic thinking have allowed her to create pieces full of mystical symbolism that contain a unique energetic vibration that allows the audience to experience different emotions with every piece. From her collaboration as a designer in “The Rugrats go Wild”and “The Wild Thornberrys” movies to her most recent video No more blood in your clothes, that points out the abuse committed by the textile industry, Marisa has transcended art history as a woman who is able to link universal phenomena through images taken from her subconscious mind combining them with her different styles and techniques.