Claudia Casarino lives and works in Paraguay and has exhibited in South America , Europe and Asia. She has practiced as a photographer, printmaker and installation artist . Athough Casarino underwent a fine art training she has not practiced drawing as such for a few years, feeling that she was not ‘ready’ for it, meaning that drawing was a particular kind of experience which required a heightened sensibility and frame of mind. However, in 2004, during her Residency at Gasworks Studios (part of the Triangle Arts Trust), London, she began working with tracing paper and water to make a series of drawings of the female body. Effectively these are self portraits, but only insofar as Casarino took photographs of herself , enlarged them, then traced the outline of the figure with brush and water, for want of a model to take up the particular poses she needed to make the work.
These are characteristically of the female figure bathing, or pursuing activities which are part of the bathing routine – shaving legs and underarms, soaping and massaging the body or towelling.
However, in addition to the interest in water and its effects on the body – nourishing, sensual, cleansing and suggesting a unity with the natural world – Casarino is also interested in the way the female body has been treated in the popular press, in the media, the way it has expressed male fantasy and desire rather than a more prosaic reality of womanhood.
Speaking of water Casarino describes it in terms of a cage – this at first is perplexing , but perhaps she means it is a way of separating the naked body from the world around it. Within this separating cage there is a freedom to be oneself? In her drawings Casarino literally uses water, and nothing else, to define the body, to frame it, but also to create it as something barely visible. Perhaps she is saying the body has a presence which we so often miss because it is clothed in all the trappings of high fashion – as seen through Hello Magazine, Vogue, TV, Cinema, advertising and so on. She notes that historically women have rarely been represented as themselves and have disappeared under layers of makeup or garments, been deformed into figures with, for example, gigantic breasts and bellies and miniscule heads, or relentlessly exercised into the ‘perfect’ form. In Casarino’s ‘portraits’ the woman is doing very private things that are to do with self image, so that although the bath is private, liberating and cleansing, it is also an arena for the woman to tie herself to the idealised form which ‘imprisons’ her. To Casarino the rites and routines of self enhancement all but cause the real woman to disappear. In these fragile drawings which evoke both the liberating privacy of the shower yet the restrictive adherence to a male oriented code of appearance this invisibility is delicately underscored.
Curator, Word &. Image, Victoria & Albert Museum. London