Francisco Zarate (1985, Buenaventura) is a Colombian Designer and Visual artist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He studied Visual Communication Design at the National University La Plata in Buenos Aires and is currently doing a postgraduate in Conceptual Design at UNTREF.
His work is mainly focused on the possibility of creating an image that allows him to travel and create an imaginary to that primitive childhood, to be in a ritual with the materials and dreams.
Chambre Fluide: Hello! Let's talk about yourself, Who is Francisco?
Francisco Zarate: First of all Hello! Who I am, is a wide question. I'm a man born in a small island called Buenaventura in the Colombian Pacific and now I live in a huge city like Buenos Aires.
Here in Argentina, I finished my studies, I learned not only in the academic field but culturally, especially from myself, in a self-taught way.
I'm like a wave in constant movement, who tries to learn and explore.
CF: You said that your idea of a work of art is based on the possibility of creating an image that allows you to travel and create an image to that primitive childhood, to be in a ritual with the materials and the dreams.
Could you please explain what your idea of Origin is?
FZ: When I talk about the origin there is at a certain point a portion of the geography of that which happened to me on a visual level in space. The origin goes back to childhood where I somehow felt like an explorer.
For example, to stand and watch for a while until the tide goes out, to see how the water comes down and then leaves a kind of footprint made of both human and marine objects.
l like a kind of random collage, I would stay for hours exploring those shapes and animals that were suspended in the sand, like trying to read some message or just being embellished by the beauty of those images that changed every day. then the night, the total blackness of the sky mixed with the sea is something and all those lights of the ships or night birds among other inexplicable things that happen in the darkness.
Being on an island with little access to art-related material, or spaces like museums or cultural centers, I think my first contact with art is nature, the sea, the mountains, and everything that comes from the idea of being surrounded by a body of water.
That mixed with stories told about entities around nature and water, generated a kind of fear and curiosity at the same time.
Writing this at this very moment, I remember the nights before I went to sleep the intermittent sound of the dock, in my head I was zooming around, and imagining the island in the middle of the sea, and those events under the sea and in the mountains, as if wanting to know and feel everything.
I believe that the origin is always towards oneself, towards the innocence of discovering and assuming everything.
CF: Today we are immersed in a culture that sees the Visual protagonist. As a visual and graphic artist what role does the image play today and What is an image in your view?
FZ: I think that today we have become serial consumers of images and creators of images, I think there is a duty to investigate where the images that happen to us and with which we work, from my perspective every image is political and poetic at once.
I read a while ago, a book by Joan Fontcuberta, entitled "The Fury of Images", which generated an internal earthquake with respect to the role of image generation in this context of hyperconnectivity.
One of the questions that remained in my mind was the idea that we lost our sovereignty over images and it is time to recover it.
CF: What is the relationship between today's technological reality and the reality of the myth that persists in your work and What is the fil rouge between the ancient and the present in your research?
FZ: I believe that at this moment everything inhabits the same body in movement, the idea is to know how to navigate it, I am at this moment very interested in images and artists in which I reflect from a perspective of race and politics.
The connection between the ancient and the present in my work is related to the body as a seed, I would not call it an investigation, but rather a free exploration.
feeling ephemeral, fickle, and part of an entity within this planet, the visual similarities between a root and our veins, the functioning of the body as an example of the functioning of that which surrounds us.
So I think that the fil rouge is the body and that energy that goes beyond it, and that
for now is a mystery like a black hole in space.
CF: You were born in Colombia and then you moved to Argentina where you currently live. What’s your personal relationship with your country?
FZ: The relationship that I have with my country is one of love and hate, it is a beautiful country, with people who are fighters, who dream, who lives and wish for a better future, but we have been driven by political issues and upper-class interests, where the only thing that matters is the welfare of a few, I wish and hope that there is equality for all in my country on an educational, social and racial level.
Colombia is a brilliant territory full of history and culture, I think people should stand up for their rights, and I also know that there is fear, fear is like a thorn that paralyzes you with its pain.
There are many deaths of leaders who appeal for a better life for their communities. I could continue writing many things, but I am going to refer to hate and that is the impotence of seeing from the distance how fear paralyzes us, and that includes me.
I feel that at some point everything will change, and that depends on us.
CF: What do you think about the contemporary Latin American cultural scenario?
FZ: If I take the meaning of the word contemporary as current time and space, I love to see many artists that I have met through Instagram, most of them connected from a racial and political perspective, and that for me is enriching because it speaks of a culture, a thought, and a universe.
I like a very well known Colombian artist called Doris Salcedo, her art is a subtle way of doing politics and talking about what is happening in the country on a social-political level.
Then here in Argentina, there are projects like Bienal Sur that show different artists from the periphery of the world, from far away places and that somehow her art speaks of what happens to them in their lives at all levels.
CF: Let’s talk about "CSO Cuerpos Sin Órganos". What inspired this work? What do the elements represent?
FZ: "Cuerpos Sin Órganos" was born from a call for a project called "Impresión por mi", Where an artist and a writer took the phrase of Deleuze "Cuerpos Sin Órganos, CSO" ( Le corps-sans-organes (abrégé en CsO par les auteurs) and from there emerged a poetic, literary and visual construction where the body and its surroundings are the protagonists.
The thighs like petals, the sea like an ear, the words like butterflies that fade in time among other images inhabited in that small format of size A5.
CF: How does your research develop? Where do you collect your inspiration from?
FZ: My research is derived from many things, essentially from images, texts, and dreams, as mental notes are suspended in my head and are connected to everything in my life.
Then I start a search for the image and then for its meaning.
For example, I have always felt attracted by hyenas and their sound, now I am drawing a character that rides a hyena, which is called "How to ride the body of the night?" since hyenas move at night are part of the night and in their vocal, sounds inhabit the souls of the dead.
So it is a way of working, always changing, nothing is constant, and when it becomes repetitive I tend to change the method.
CF: What role do art and artists play in society nowadays? How has that changed as the scope of what art is and what it looks like has also changed?
FZ: From my point of view art is necessary for a society like medicine, like architecture, but with access to everyone in any environment and space.
It should not be something of a certain class or elitist space, I think it is something that should be immersed in the streets, at the same level as an advertising poster that only challenges us to consume, in the case of art what can generate us is a beautiful question, a smile or an idea that lights up inside.
Art as a beautiful question of what we are, of what inhabits us. and the artist as a mediator.
You can find more works by Francisco Zarate here