Through palm-sized sculptures, Argentinian visual artist Claudia Fontes’ work questions the meaning and connotations associated with the word ‘foreigner’.
Each figurative sculpture in Fontes’ latest project explores the relationships between the individual and the physical environment. Born and raised in Argentina, Fontes has spent the last ten years living and working in England. Her experience as a foreigner there forms the basis of this work. The faceless figures are depicted in varying moulds: alone, couples standing side by side and hugging in a group, highlighting human companionship and the connections between individuals. In a broader sense, Fontes is interested in living organisms and how they relate to broader biopolitical systems. Gaining inspiration from the grasses, sea sponges, natural stones and animals found in the forests and fields near her home in the English countryside, her works resemble organic materials despite being made from English flaxseed porcelain. They become a physical manifestation not only of how she understands the landscape there and a reminder of nature’s affinity with human life. With these miniature figures, Fontes attempts to “denaturalize” the word ‘foreigner’ — a word that she believes has come to be associated with discrimination and negativity in English culture.