“I always intend to make work that responds to the present and that asks questions that I firstly ask to myself, rather than providing some sort of answer”
AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?
CG: I was born in Madrid. I think I was very attached to expressing things in a visual way since I was very young. My parents always had pictures in the house and used to take me to art museums on every trip we made. Even if they were not people familiarised with art, I received many visual inputs that, I guess, had an impact on me. I did not have any artists around so I never thought about pursuing an artistic career as a possibility until I finished my degree in Fine Arts.
AT: When did it become serious?
CG: I did an Erasmus exchange at Camberwell College of Arts in London, where I began to make my first projects. When returned to Madrid, I met a few artists that introduced me to the art scene in my city. After that, in happened quite organically; as I kept making work, opportunities to exhibit it started occurring.
AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?
CG: Yes; surely! Many people. I specially value a few people that appeared at difficult or uncertain times who believed in my work and supported me in different ways. I owe them a lot. Art making is never a lonely process.
AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?
CG: I think about my practice as reactive; responding to situations rather than creating them on the first place. The ideas for my works usually come from the observation of existing situations that catch my attention. There is usually a process of about a year or two until I understand how I can approach that idea and for me to understand the medium or materials that are best to use. The stress of the work is often based on gestures or long processes of research rather than pieces or finished objects, even if the outcomes are often, in fact, objects.
Local Colour is a Foreign Invention (Venice) (2020). Pigmented inks print on Hahnemühle paper, 308 gr., 87 x 125 cm. Photo: Roberto Ruiz
AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?
CG: One of the main pursuits in my work is to make visible certain dynamics and beliefs – social, economical… – that are often concealed within the systems surrounding us in regards of arts production, from a critical perspective. I always intend to make work that responds to the present and that asks questions that I firstly ask to myself, rather than providing some sort of answer.
AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?
CG: Historically, as mediums, I feel very connected to the history of painting and photography and how they intertwined, and this is present in the way I approach images. But, in practice, I am not a medium-specific artist. I feel close to certain processes, such as the collection and recycling of found images and objects, the intervention and the interview as tools to develop my projects.
AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?
CG: I enjoy the whole creative process; from having the idea to the process of executing it, where things you hadn´t envisaged beforehand occur. But I always have to understand somehow why I am doing something, or using this or that material or medium, before I get into it, because I choose them for a reason. There is always space for improvisation, but the final outcome is always in my mind when I start a new work; it is already in the idea that starts everything.
AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?
CG: I think when I see that it communicates what I intend to propose. You could keep changing a work forever; adding things or executing them differently… But I think making work is very much about having that kind of energy and drive and there is a moment for this; then, your mind can move somewhere else so I don’t insist. I think that, when making work, it is also important to understand that you were a different person when you decided when a work was finished in the past, with the experience and knowledge you had at that time, and embracing that.
In English, Demonyms are Capitalised/ German Painting (2019). Pigmented inks print on Hahnemühle paper, 308 gr., 80 x 60 cm. Photo: Philippe Degobert.
In English, Demonyms are Capitalised/ Swiss Sculptor (2019). Pigmented inks print on Hahnemühle paper, 308 gr., 80 x 60 cm. Photo: Philippe Degobert.
AT: Where does the inspiration from the work come from?
CG: From all aspects of my life; which is why for me it is very important to be open and put myself into new contexts and surround myself with different people, so that new questions arrive.
AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?
CG: Yes; many. Specially on the first years making work, in which I used to see many exhibitions and read a lot about art. I see art as a long conversation amongst many people through time, so these influences were crucial to start the desire in making work. In the past years, as I got deeper into my work, I have become more interested in situations and conversations outside of art.
AT: How important is the role of social media for you?
CG: I have been using social media since I got myself a smartphone, which was around 2011. I use it as a producer and also a consumer. As a producer, I see it as a kind of diary and a way to keep in touch with people that I don’t see everyday. As a consumer, social media has been a source of inspiration and a context for reflection for many of my projects. I am very interested in how digital media are shaping the physical reality around us.
Tote Bag Paintings/ Kunsthalle Wien, How to Live Together (2017). Installation view of Boothworks (solo exhibition), The Goma (Madrid, Spain, 2017). Photo: Roberto Ruiz.
AT: As an artist, what is your point of view on the contemporary art system?
CG: I think the contemporary art system is a reflection of the way the world works. I think I am more interested in the smaller contemporary art ecosystems that inhabit within the big system, where relationships amongst its agents are more tangible and human.
AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
CG: The most challenging or daunting for me are the times where you need you have to stop in order to reconfigure your questions, which can be dark sometimes. The most rewarding part of my work is when I see myself dedicating my life to what I really enjoyed doing as a child. I also think its magic how, within art, you can travel to the other part of the world and connect with people really easily. It’s somehow a global language.
AT: What do you do besides art?
CG: I felt for some time that I needed a “hobby” outside of art, because art had become my work and, sometimes, it can get be overwhelming. I really dislike the word hobby, but I now understand the positive side of having one: to do something just for the pleasure of it, without putting any pressure in its outcome. After the lockdown I got myself a DJ controller and I am teaching myself how to mix, which is something I always wanted to do. I am finding it a great way to put my creativity to work in a different way every time I am blocked.
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
CG: To continue working; keep being focused and learn to enjoy more the process of my work. To be even more in love with what I do.
An Unholy Alliance/ Frieze Nº187, May 2017 (2017). Art magazine, glue, dimensions variable.
Cristina Garrido (b. 1986) is a Spanish visual artist currently living and working in Madrid, Spain. "The work of Garrido is essentially based upon an operative research on the conditions of possibility of the status of the work of art in its relationship with the social devices and protocols that constitute platforms of visibility for artists’ work. Her practice has a strong conceptual, and therefore reflexive, component, although never straying far from an aesthetic and visual component that combines very disparate methodologies and media, such as video, sculpture, installation and multiple objects reproduced by the artist as icons representing the contemporary art system" (João Silvério - fragment of the text Glipmse. An Art of Microseconds, 2018).