Installation image, Shedding #14, 2021 Silicone and bubblewrap 200 x 55 x 55 cm Photo: Aleix Plademunt. Courtesy of the artist and Bombon Projects
Installation image, Shedding #26, 2021 Silicone and bubblewrap 60 x 60 x 70 cm Photo: Aleix Plademunt. Courtesy of the artist and Bombon Projects
Installation image, Shedding #11, 2021 Silicone and bubblewrap 167 x 115 x 115 cm Photo: Aleix Plademunt. Courtesy of the artist and Bombon Projects
Photo: Aleix Plademunt. Courtesy of the artist and Bombon Projects

Eva Fàbregas

with Wells Fray-Smith

‘What interests me about these objects is that they are malleable and they have the potential to become different forms within one shape. They are not fixed. They are always embracing transformation.’

Listen to the full interview here:

My name is Eva Fàbregas. My work revolves around ideas of desire and attraction and the somatic and the tactile. The way I think about my work is through touch. In my work, the touch and the sensorial interaction is crucial.

I’m interested in looking at organic forms and sexual dynamics and production of desire. What I try to do with my work is to put questions about how our bodies are shaped and moulded. And then, create new scenarios of potentiality with these questions. My method of working in the studio is very process-based. I usually work with materials that are soft, malleable and elastic. For example, I use silicones and I use textiles and inflatable objects. And I think I learn through those materials, through making and touching those materials.

What are you showing in The London Open 2022?

I’m showing a series of objects that are made of translucent silicone. Gelatinous and bulbous or membrane-like organs, that have some kind of intriguing cavities and holes and protuberances, these objects are called Sheddings (2021). For me, they look like the remnants or the leftovers of some sort of organism that has undergone a change or a metamorphosis. For example, like snakes would do with their own skin. What interests me about these objects is that they are malleable and they have the potential to become different forms. They are not fixed. They are always embracing transformation. They are like amoebas and formless forms, because I think they come from mutation, from combination and multiplication. They want to invite us to imagine other possible organs, other possible bodies and, maybe, new forms of desire and effects and relationships with those objects.

They come in different sizes and different colours, and we were going to be showing them as clusters. Can you tell us about the relationship between the single sculpture and the groups?

Normally I try to imagine how they will be exhibited first. But in my practice, I tend to produce objects that are not fixed. They are very playful and they have the potential to be exhibited in many ways. Normally, I try to listen to the sculptures, and where and how they want to inhabit a space. Right now I imagine that they would like to be close together in groups at Whitechapel Gallery.

You’ve talked about how important touch and the senses are in your work. In some of your previous installations, the viewers have been able to lie down on the works. As Sheddings is shown within our institution, people aren’t meant to touch them. How do you feel about this?

When I work around somatics and the touch, it’s not about the satisfaction of desire. It’s about the production of this desire, or the production of the desire to touch something. I think that these sculptures also work with this. The viewer maybe is not directly invited to touch them, but there is a drive to know how they would feel on your skin.

What’s behind your choice of colours for the silicones?

Colours in my practice work with desire, the visual desire, the attraction and the tactile too. I work a lot with fascination; the desire to put these colours together. I think that the colours have references like skincare or flowers.

The title Sheddings brings to mind this idea of a new skin, or something that’s left over after a sexual encounter. Can you tell us what the references are behind the work?

I think that when I’ve been working on Sheddings, but also on other works, I do recreate forms that may remind you of sexual organs and genitals and bodily organs and glands. But I’m also looking to simple life forms, like molluscs or sea jellies and vegetation and micro-organisms, or also the reproductive parts of plants or flowers. I think that mostly what I try to do is to blur the boundaries between these different forms of life.

Works in the exhibition:
Shedding #11, 2021
Silicone and bubblewrap
167 x 115 x 115 cm

Shedding #14, 2021
Silicone and bubblewrap
200 x 55 x 55 cm

Shedding #18, 2021
Translucid silicone
42 x 42 x 80 cm

Shedding #20, 2021
Translucid silicone
42 x 42 x 80 cm

Shedding #24, 2021
Silicone and bubblewrap
65 x 120 x 80 cm

Shedding #25, 2021
Silicone and bubblewrap
77 x 75 x 75 cm

Shedding #26, 2021
Silicone and bubblewrap
60 x 60 x 70 cm

Shedding #27, 2021
Silicone and bubblewrap
70 x 60 x 60 cm

Shedding #28, 2021
Translucid silicone
42 x 42 x 80 cm

Eva Fàbregas (b. 1988, Barcelona, Spain)
2013 MA Fine Arts, Chelsea College of Art, University of the Arts, London
2010 BA Fine Arts, Universitat de Barcelona

Selected exhibitions: Skin-like, Kunsthal, Gent (2021); Gut Feeling, Centrocentro, Madrid (solo) (2019); Those things that your fingers can tell, Kunstverein München, Munich (solo) (2019); Every object is a thing but not everything is an object, Hollybush Gardens, London (2018); Picture yourself as a block of melting butter, Fundaci. Mir., Barcelona (solo) (2017); Eyecatcher, Big Screen Southend, Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea (2017)

What makes London’s art scene so vibrant? What are the concerns of the next generation of artists? What insight does their work offer in challenging times?

This triennial exhibition showcases a cross-section of the most dynamic artistic talent from across the capital. Established in 1932, this much-celebrated open submission show features 46 London-based artists working across painting, sculpture, moving image, installation and performance.

Since the last London Open in 2018, the city has experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, demonstrations demanding racial and climate justice, and widespread questioning of institutions and their structures.

The London Open 2022 traces the ways in which artists have witnessed and responded to these events with resilience and heart. In times of hardship and crisis, and when exhibitions were cancelled and moved online, these artists experimented with new sites of production and means of dissemination, from the kitchen table to the back garden.

The exhibition is loosely structured as a journey from the personal to the social, moving from individual to collective concerns, the cathartic to the poetic, the political and the environmental.

The artists were selected from over 2,600 entries by a panel of experts including collector Maria Bukhtoyarova, artist Shezad Dawood, curator and art historian Christine Eyene, gallerist Stephan Tanbin Sastrawidjaja, with Whitechapel Gallery curators Emily Butler, lnês Costa and Wells Fray-Smith.

Gallery 1, Downstairs

The relationship between our bodies and the material world kickstarts the exhibition. Rafał Zajko‘s wall-based reliefs appear like hybrid beings, processing the gluten found in wheat and barley flour, leaving us unsure if this is for machine or human consumption.Likewise, Madeleine Pledge‘s stretched fabrics and ceramic boots imply absent bodies and their physical role in manufacturing.

Materiality and belief systems intersect in Candida Powell-Williams’ handmade objects. A unicorn and swing inspired by medieval tapestries are fenced off by a trellis, prompting questions about the divisions between what is mythical and real. Alicia Reyes McNamara‘s paintings feature non-binary, shapeshifting figures drawn from various mythologies, from Meso-America to Ancient Egypt, to consider alternative notions of time and embodiment.

Gallery 9, Upstairs

This gallery features works that delve into the impact of technology, algorithms and quantification on our lives. In his series The Spectre of a World Which Could Be Free  2019, Ben Yau looks at the parallel rise of Neoliberalism and the CIA’s role in sabotaging the socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, bringing together both economic data and declassified documents.

Set in a parallel present reminiscent of sci-fi films such as Blade Runner 2049, The Underlying by Ami Clarke considers the implicit role of capitalism in environmental disaster.

Meanwhile, Rory Cahill and George Mackness offer a walk through a dystopian, corrupted digital landscape of the future, with an immersive soundtrack. They consider: what does a digital wasteland look like, what happens there and what is its afterlife?

Gallery 8, Upstairs

The artworks in this gallery reflect on family, identity and community. Seema Khalique travelled to Bangladesh to photograph two communities of transgender people called hijras. In this behind-the-scenes series, she questions the prejudices they face, revealing the economic hardships they endure alongside the strong network of mentorship and care they create.

Pioneering photographer, curator and writer Sunil Gupta took photographs of his neighbourhood on Walworth Road during lockdown. This work celebrates the increased relevance of our localities during the pandemic, as well as reflecting on the processes involved in created photographic images.

On three vintage TV monitors, Hussina Raja‘s short narrative films look at the subject of migration to the UK from post-Partition India, tracing the continued experiences of displacement and exploring nuanced notions of identity.

The works in the last part of the show focus on our relationship to and impact on the environment. In Agrilogistics (2022), Gerard Ortin Castellvi films in an automated greenhouse, in which the growth of tomatoes, tulips and chrysanthemums is controlled by cameras and sensors, in order to question the future of food production.

Having spent lockdown excavating her back garden, Maria Roy Deulofeu meticulously records each layer of soil like an archaeologist, collecting artefacts and ecofacts, before assembling a kiln to fire hand-thrown urns with the different layers of clay. The process is recorded in a video shown alongside the objects. Finally, a flock of parakeets cast in lead are scattered on the ground in Patrick Goddard‘s Blue Sky Thinking (2019).The parakeet exemplifies a non-native species increasingly common in London parks and hints at a mass extinction event, highlighting mankind’s role in the impending climate disaster.

See the full list of works here.

An illustrated catalogue is available to purchase from the bookshop.

Artists have generously made limited editions to coincide with the exhibition to support the Gallery’s education programme.