"I am a woman living in a world with large gender disparities, and I have to say that this worries me a lot," GIF artist Isabel Chiara tells GIPHY. To tell these stories of female identity, all that "troubles and fascinates her," she turns to the looping medium of GIFs and animated collages. We spoke to Isabel about her icons and inspirations, creative process, and surrealistic style!
How did you get into the world of GIFs? What was your very first GIF?
I had used GIFs solely for animation tests but had not given much thought about the GIF itself as a legitimate form of artistic expression. Now, I create GIFs to communicate. It’s truly an attractive medium to effectively convey information through visual storytelling. My work is based on messages that prompt a dialogue with the viewer.
About “Multiorgasmica” -- well what can I say that you do not know? The GIF has a considerable hypnotic effect. Who has not felt hypnotized with dolls in the car's dashboard? The GIF is there for the taking.
Where do you find your inspiration? What artists, books, movies, or music influences your work?
I work with very defined ideas in my head, focusing on that which troubles or fascinates me. My personal tastes are eclectic, from Baroque to Pop Art or Surrealism. I am very interested in what writers, musicians and artists say and how they say it. I cannot help but to concentrate on that constant balance between substance and form.
Art, literature and music are such an important part of my life. I constantly need to refer to female figures: Janis Joplin, Chrissie Hynde, Billie Holiday, Grace Slick... they are but a small summary of some of my most important early references. Years later, I discovered the work of Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker. They are always present. But also I'm listening to Led Zeppelin’s "Moby Dick." I hope my shots are accurate, all external stimulus are important to me.
Women seem to be a recurring theme in your work. How do the GIF and collage medium lend themselves to telling this story?
I am a woman living in a world with large gender disparities, and I have to say that this worries me a lot. I suppose if I did something else I still would see the world through the lens of a woman. Collage and GIFs allow me to work with female icons, and also with others that represent everything that I don't like. The GIF is useful for me to highlight and criticize contemporary thinking and aesthetics of female identity.
Do you prefer that viewers experience your GIFs singularly or interconnected and part of series?
I like to work [with] full series. I am more interested in the narrative than in impactful but isolated images.
Could you tell us the story behind three of your favorite creations?
My “Tears” series is the product of a big disappointment. I lent my tears to classical characters to show my dissatisfaction with issues such as possession, false compassion, misunderstanding and neglect. Another special series is “Marcianas”, because that is how we women feel as a key victim of the economic crisis. The third series I preferred is “La tensión sexual de St. Sebastian (all you need is love)”, because religion and sexuality are two issues that really interest me.
What are you working on next?
I am working with video artist based in France, Isabel Perez del Pulgar, in a piece of video art called “Open Memory,” where the GIF plays an especially important role. We find that the use of GIF plays a key role in the narrative flow and it has impact in reinforcing the message that we wish to put through. The capacity of the GIF to communicate is so interesting, in the context of the more traditional use of video.