It is humanly natural to think of things and forces that separate us from each other. Language, culture, place, values and tradition; they all create a separation which we call differences or diversity. Erik Ravelo is a Cuban artist at Fabrica who has viewed those differences as the palette to break down and dissolve those differences. In his latest work, Lana Sutra, with United Colors of Benetton, his experiences concerning diversity shaped and unified the convergence on diversity, love.
>> I’m a human being and I don’t believe in borders. I think the world belongs to everyone born on Earth. This is my planet, our planet. No man is an island. Yes, I was born on Cuba but, above all, I was born on Planet Earth. I like to think that Lana Sutra talks about universal love which cancels diversity.<< Erik Ravelo
There is a common thread that unites us and it is stronger than anything else that might separate us; this is love. We are citizens of one planet, one humankind. As humans, it's as if we need acts of war, natural disasters or other negative catastrophes to remind us of our mortality; we believe that this is not the best reminder. We believe that through art, we can remind ourselves of our potential as humans; we can remind ourselves of our love through sharing and our strength as one race. Art shows us the imagination and connection we share through different mediums. It has the power to captivate and uplift our spirits as it delivers the message.
After the widespread recognition obtained at the Venice Biennale, United Colors of Benetton will open its doors on September 6th 2011 to host a triple, simultaneous event in its concept stores (Istanbul, Milan, Munich as well as on the web) to present a series of 15 art installations. Created by Erik Ravelo, these pieces embody our connection as one race and our strength as one unit.
Lana Sutra is a series of 15 installations conceived as a homage to love dedicated to the desire for an equal and sharing society. Derived from 'Lana', Italian and Spanish for wool and 'sutra', which means a thread which unites, this concept begins to unfold very natural and compelling visuals. Ravelo utilizes real models to articulate the different positions of love using plaster to capture the forms. Each installation is composed of two plaster sculptures: two bodies embracing covered in wool threads in various colours, chosen from the tonalities of the Fall-Winter collection currently available at your local United Colors of Benetton store. Provocatively and artistically, Erik Ravelo decides to show us the two points where the entities meet where the colours would merge into one another. The intersection of differences creates one shared point, new colour, binding emotion and moment. This is yet another way to symbolize how love can cancel differences and bind humanity as one.
>> We have conceived a project which combines both Benetton’s traditional and new values, such as the uniqueness and authenticity of our fashions, our love of art, the constantly evolving nature of our retail business and our interest in the web and in the new geography of our world. These are metaphorically held together by wool threads in bright colours: two key elements of Benetton’s DNA, which are blended together in these art pieces to become a true expression of our brand’s essence. With this project, which has been conceived and developed in harmony with our new Fall-Winter 2011 collection, we are highlighting the uniqueness and global values associated with United Colors of Benetton: an all-encompassing brand whose fashion unites with a truthful voice, people, points of view and themes that touch the whole of humanity.<< Alessandro Benetton, Executive Deputy Chairman
Erik Ravelo has utilized a mixture of ideas to inform and shape the installations. His soft, provocative and poetic messages began on paper with simple strokes and colour. These allowed for technical and poetic exploration. Utilizing human bodies to explore varying positions gives a natural and intense experience as the moment is captured. The long and arduous patience of the models required a huge amount of work for both parties, but truly encompassed the commitment to the vision. The plastered moulds absorbed not only the scent of the person but also their sweat, fatigue and eroticism. Once the plaster was dry and positioned the repetitive motion of wool revolving around every inch of the bodies not only gives each form intensity and language, but also humanizes it through its soft, warm texture. He articulates that his experiences with different cultures, lifestyles and religions are his palette. His approach to something could be a blue colour but someone else's approach to the same situation could be red. Together, the interaction becomes the mixture of the two colours to create something new.
>> I believe that Lana Sutra really talks about coexistence, about living together. It is about interaction among cultures and people of different races and faiths. It’s an ode; a homage to hybridization.<< Erik Ravelo
The entire collection of installations is provocative yet humanizing. The richness in language lies in the ability for all of us to understand and capture the essence of love through diversity. A very honest and simple message that will captivate humanity and carry out the values of the United Colors of Benetton brand. Maybe now, we can see Benetton regaining once again the artistic weight it once had.