by Manu SharmaJan 16, 2021
The artists Henri Mattise, Salvador Dali, and Louise Bourgeois had successfully loaded the term wearable sculptures with art and creativity. When fashion was seen as a frivolous service to indulgence and profligacy, the 20th century artists tailored their craft around fashionable wearable to establish it as an art form. The wearable sculptures as an extension of art were appreciated and received critical acclaim in the eyes of the beholder. Continuing the tradition of making wearable sculpture as a thriving art form is the Spanish artist Aloma Lafontana. She puts the medium to the best of use to talk about the relationship of women’s inner world with the objects of the outside world.
In the hands of Lafontana, the wearable sculptures are not an external ornament hinged to the body of the women, but both are intricately linked to lend meaning to each other. Talking about this, in an interview with STIR, Lafontana says, “I did an exhibition where the sculptures were suspended in the air without the presence of the body. What I find very interesting is that the body was still present even though it was not there, so the body can be considered part of the work”.
Unlike the material of fast fashion, detrimental to the natural world, Lafontana uses natural and reused materials that are embedded in the historicity of their lives. The artist expounds, “Nature is present in many of my pieces. I try to approach from the respect and fascination for the beauty present in all that the earth creates. I make the selection of materials because of the interest in the superposition of meanings that are generated with materials that already have their own meaning. I feel drawn to the idea of how these meanings change depending on the part of the body where you place it. Each material is a new challenge. There is a very interesting process in finding the most appropriate technique to handle each material. This process can take a long time but I enjoy it a lot because there it involves experimentation and learning. The advantages are that I can apply from craft techniques to modern techniques and combine them”.
The intangible nature of memory allows it to be deteriorated, distorted or disappeared. To give a physical form to the effervescent memory with the materials that have been popularly synonymous with reminiscences, Lafontana for the series Wearing Memories used 16mm film, VHS and DVDs. Interestingly, the three materials speak of three different time periods for her - 16mm film belongs to the bygone era, VHS is from her childhood days and DVD speaks of her youthful days. Unmistakably, Lafontana has a singular taste for materials, she declares, “Sometimes I imagine the piece from the material and sometimes from the concept I want to convey. First, I experiment with the material and do tests to see the possibilities there are. Then I think about the shape and the volume and finally, I create the piece”.
The collection Armor comprises three themes: revolutions, land and water. Although armor was traditionally used as a protection against the warriors during the war, it was also seen as a spiritual layer against the odds of negativity. In the current times, the armor is not just a physical shield, it refers to everyday protection in an effort to save the natural environment. For Lafontana, the armor carries a symbolic value of protection against the depletion of natural elements. Besides making intricate artistic creations, Lafontana has designed costumes for a series of experimental projects, music videos, performance arts and even advertising campaigns. For someone who has such a varied audience, Lafontana believes her relationship with the viewer is, “Quite free, for me, the pieces have a background that I understand will surely not come as I feel it and I like to think that the viewer will make their interpretation from their personal experience”.
The feminist struggle for equality has been a long journey to come out of the symbolism of outlandish indulgence to beauty - winsomeness that could be bought but not learned. In a similar vein, the wearable sculptures by Lafontana become an extension of women’s bodies that bespeak her mind.