Elena Anastasiou Neocleous is a Cyprus-based artist. Her work centers around identity and the various roles which affect how an identity unravels or what it can become within its environment. This also greatly depends on varying forces within an identity’s setting.
I am interested in everyday, ordinary, and domestic items. I tend to challenge their form as I de-contextualize them so I can reconstruct them. This intervention can be fleeting and it usually outperforms the material’s confines as well as my own. Challenging my ingredients this way is about engaging the viewer to wear different types of lenses, and within that moment, create a memory that will resonate with him/her throughout time.
Working with domestic items is important because they represent who we are within our home; when we leave our safe haven, I wonder how does this affects who we are – how do we maintain our truth, or we do adopt different identities and why?
Hello Elena! What inspired you to pursue art? What is your earliest memory of doing art?
Elena: Well, art is a way of life. Once you become drawn to it, it sort of becomes enmeshed within yourself, and there’s really nothing you can do about it. It’s like a calling; every other path just seems uninteresting. I have report cards that date back to nursery school, where my teacher wrote that I was very preoccupied with cutting and sticking at the age of 3, but I think my earliest memory of art must have been in the first grade of high school. Our art teacher took us on a walk on school grounds and asked us to draw an aspect of the yard that attracted us most. Not knowing what to draw, I drew a tree. From there on, the memories are ample.
Could you walk us through your process? How much planning do you do before you jump into creating an artwork? If you do, what are you trying to solve at each stage of it?
Elena: My process usually begins with something, an idea, an emotion, or a situation that preoccupies my mind at that given time when I walk into the studio to make. At times, I make handwritten notes or drawings that encapsulate what I am thinking about. Through these baby steps, I begin to build on the idea by adding materials or media to it, and see whether or to what extent these communicate what it is I am trying to say. There is no planning as such, just an intuitive process that unwinds whilst making, and most of the time, it takes me to places that I never thought of.
You say you’re interested in everyday, ordinary, and domestic items. Tell me more about that, and is there a message you are trying to send with each piece?
Elena: Every, ordinary and domestic items have a certain value attached to them that is usually taken for granted or bypassed. I am referring to items that are essential within our home, but we become so used to them, that we tend to ignore their importance. I like to experiment with these and see whether or not, I can add another type of value to them after my intervention. This process usually involves a transference of 2D to 3D and back again. These items are symbolic of who we are; our identity and how it changes when we are found in different environments or situations. For example, we all have a given role within our home – whether we are a parent, or a sibling or a child, there are certain prerequisites that come with that role. But, when we exit our home, we transcend or add to our identity, as we become what we are, for example, at work – a manager, cleaner, and all the prerequisites (emotional or not) that come attached with that role.
What is the work you’ve done that you’re the most excited about?
Elena: Currently, I am most drawn to my Stitched Bread Installation. This is because I feel that it is the beginning of another set of ideas and work, that I hope to begin soon.
What else inspires your work?
Elena: Mostly, it’s the every day that informs my work, and the scenarios that unravel through it.
What’s a trend you see in art today that gets on your nerves?
Elena: To say that a certain trend in art gets on my nerves, would mean that I don’t understand it or the artists that follow the trend. So,
Who are a few artists/people that really inspire you right now, and why?
Elena: Currently, I am very interested in Elana Herzog because /I find her work to unconventional, provocative, and thought-provoking.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Elena: The most memorable.. hm.. let me think. It’s a few; I think the most precious ones are linked to people who view my work that is not part of the art world. Their view is really a fresh view on art – I like to watch them viewing the work; I can see when they begin to understand the idea behind the work and then they begin to link it to how the work unravels.
Do you see art serving a purpose beyond art?
Elena: Of course. Art is meant to challenge institutions, to make people think, and help them see a different point of view.
What’s next on the horizon for Elena?
Elena: I hope you spend long days in the studio experimenting with different media and see where that journey will take me.