LSD Magazine interviews Isaac Cordal

Issue Five – Coming of Age August 11th 2010

Blink and you’ll miss it. Turning the urban landscape in on itself with installations that are almost to subtle to be noticed while passing by in an individualistic frenzy, Isaac Cordal uses the grey functionality of cement to question the lack of colour and vibrancy in so much of our lives through his tiny figures. Dealing equally with the virtual eradication of the natural world within the urban matrix, he homes in on the anonymity of city life, the numb lack of feeling and the blindness to the realities of others as bureaucracy and blandness penetrate a once organic fabric of life.  As his everyman spread out across the world in silent, downtrodden contemplation, we spoke to Isaac

Formally trained or self taught?

I studied Fine Arts in Pontevedra, a small town in northwestern Spain.

How long you been an active artist?

I have been working on my own projects since 1999.

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Where and when did the Cement Eclipse campaign begin?

I started making sculptures out of cement when I was at School of Art in 2002, but it was not until 2006 when I started to use them on the streets. The first place I left a Cement eclipses sculpture was in the city of Vigo [Spain} where I was living at that time. My first idea was to model it with fast cement but I had some problems because it dried very quickly and it was very difficult to model in situ. I decided to use silicone molds to make multiple reproductions of the pieces and then easily fitted into the spaces.

What’s the concept behind these small street pieces?

Cement Eclipses is a critic/definition of our behavior as a social mass. This project intends to catch the attention on our devalued relation with the nature through a critical look to the collateral effects of our evolution. These scenes zoom in the routine tasks of the contemporary human being.  They present fragments in which the nature, still present, maintains encouraging symptoms of survival.  The precariousness of these anonymous statuettes, at the height of the sole of the passers, represents the nomadic remainders of an imperfect construction of our society. These small sculptures contemplate the demolition and reconstruction of everything around us. They catch the attention of the absurdity of our existence.

The small figures have no expressions on their faces, do you think humanity has become a faceless feature?

I believe that due to the presence of bureaucracy in our lives more and more, people have become a number. There is some loss of physical presence. Groups of people have turned into an anonymous mass easily and in large cities is hard to remember the face of one or another person. We tend to standardize the faces. Increasingly, the digits have supplanted our own personality. Our body is currently represented by avatars, nicknames and passwords. With the expansion of Internet as a social tool the contemporary individual is immersed in a virtual space very easily. Our digital identity does not necessarily correspond to our real identity. This implies that our personality is created on demand.

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Do you actually leave the pieces on the street or are they used solely for the photographic end of your concept?

I continue to leave the pieces on the street but I’m also increasingly interested in the scenes that I compose when photoshooting. At the beginning, I used to photograph it with the only idea of documenting each action, until I realized that the photos could convey my intentions more directly. I’m mainly interested in sculpture and in the process of placing pieces in public spaces. I like this ephemeral element of the sculptures, lost in the urban jungle, and that anyone can become an involuntary spectator and just by passing becomes the new owner, or collector, of one of those pieces.

Unless passerby’s have a keen eye for street art placement, they could easily miss the pieces does that bother you?

If they remain camouflaged increases their chances of survival.

Although almost featureless viewers connect emotionally with your figures, they tell a human story, what feedback do you get from the general public?

I have received good reviews via Internet. People enjoy the project. I like to be quite humorous but I don´t want to be just funny, I’m interested in a critical content. In this sense Cement eclipses has a certain melancholy but communicates something positive from monochrome gray cement.

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How important is placement to this particular project?

Many of the scenes I represented are suggested by the city. Sometimes I see a place that makes me think of a scene.
The placement is very important. To be honest, sometimes even it´s more important than the sculptures. The street is like a puzzle. When you add something you can change the meaning of the original image. In Cement eclipses the city becomes a kind of perfect scenery. You can find in the street a lot of different landscapes that would be impossible to build by your own. The other day I was taking a picture of a little cement man sit down on the edge in a large hole dug in the pavement and I got very confused by someone when  asked me if I was the one who made also the hole on the ground.

What drives your creativity?

I really like to play with the big puzzle.

We noticed you placed some pieces in Hackney, how are locals responding to your work?

I don´t have a lot of feedback face to face but I´d like to think that perhaps someone from the cleaning service has a little collection of my pieces.

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Is London an important city on the street art map?

For sure, I consider London´s street art very interesting. The only problem I find is that most of the works are very focused on certain areas of the city. Shoreditch looks like an art gallery in the open air. London is a very clean city due to the large number of surveillance cameras. I think there is a great movement that spread urban art and high quality proposals.

We love your Cement Bleak concept, where did the idea evolve from?

Happy that you like it. Cement bleak was a test in which I projected the shadows of some colanders with the light of public lighting. In each colander I had previously modeled a face into the grid that cames by default. When light passes through the mesh wire the face is projected as a drawing on the surface. This type of work I usually do into exhibition spaces with more complex installations using motors, LEDs, etc..

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Should we expect to see more faces on cement blocks in the near future?

I have two large faces that are waiting for a place in London. My idea is to hang them and project the shadow on the wall.

Tell us a little about the concept behind your multimedia art exhibit Unidentified Suspects Triptych…

Unidentified Suspects Triptych is an installation. The process of execution is the same I explained above with Cement bleak. With this installation I created 3d spaces with analogical materials. The graphic results are very similar to what we get with the use of specific software. I am interested in using lofi technologies to create complex results arguing about the abuse of usage we have with new technologies in many cases. Today we have the latest version of everything related to technology and not always is necessary.

Anything else you’d like to share with LSD readers?

I just would like to say hi to everyone and thanks very much for those are interested in my work.

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Isaac Cordal Website

Issue Five – Coming of Age August 11th 2010