Paraguayan artist Claudia Casarino denounces the pressure that people, and more especially women, have suffered because of stereotypes during many years. Her work is a reflection of her sensitivity and empathy as well as her strength and tenacity to make the world a better place. Through photographs, videos, installations or interventions hiding layers of meaning, she reveals her strong convictions. We talk to the artist about the important issues she mentions in her work. 
Could you tell us more about your background as an artist in Paraguay? 
Paraguay is a small, landlocked country at the centre of South America and I am part of the first group of art students that came from the National University. I started exhibiting nationally around 1998, and internationally in 1999.
I use to spend a lot of time in New York where my mother lives, and took some courses at the School of Visual Arts in the past, as well as attending some printmaking classes at Bob Blackburn’s Printmaking Workshop. So, I spent my first years as an art student going back and forth, from south to north, which was an incredible experience that reinforced my concerns about migration and identity.
Were photography and installations your first vision of art?
Before I started art school I took photography and sculpture classes. I never decided or even thought about being an artist. It just evolved that way through certain circumstances. I remember being political since I was quite young, and my body of work is built around political issues. I mostly talk about gender, migration, otherness and identity, and I do so by using diverse media as photography, video, installations or interventions.
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What is your main source of inspiration? What influences your work? 
I always mention that my family’s history is the source of everything I do. Although it doesn’t belong to me, it is part of history in general. Migration, violence, departures: most conflicts of contemporary life reproduce themselves in the microcosms that a family is. You multiply that and you have world history. Women in my family have been through a lot; their histories, their bodies. Also, I come from a country that has had the longest dictatorship in Latin America. Memory is almost an unavoidable subject for me.
How would you describe your art?
I could say that I try to peel the onion to its core. I try to say things with very little visual elements. Also, I’m interested in the fact that the pieces have layers of meaning. That the first impression you get could perplex you before getting to the idea of it, or maybe not ever getting there but only having an aesthetic experience.
Most of your installations always feature clothes. Would you share with us your reflexion about this?
I think that when you talk about women’s issues through clothing, your ideas can be easily read. Our bodies have been covered by layers of ideologies, basically.
Also, you often work with this see-through fabric. What is the real meaning of it within your art?
Tulle is present in most rites of passage of women in western societies: first communion, “quinceañeras”, weddings and also mourning. For me, its transparency is a metaphor of clothing itself. It covers the body but reveals other things. Also, I normally talk about things being overlooked. With tulle, the gaze transcends the garment.
Could you tell us more about your installation called Sleep Disorder? What dream are you mentioning here? 
Sleep Disorder is a piece I made in 2011 for the Algiers FIAC. I was really excited to show in Africa. I always think that we should have a more fluent exchange with Africa, as our history is so similar. Colonization, independences, dictatorships, corruption, and more. So, I created a piece that could talk to women in all the ‘other places of the south’.
These are nightgowns that go from white to red through shades of pink. Like escalating from a dream to a nightmare, like when you have a promise of a new horizon and then you find yourself trapped in the human trafficking networks. It is about that.
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Your work used to be made to refer to women and the important issues that hit our world today. What are your intentions/convictions by highlighting these facts?
Violence against women is palpable every day, everywhere. I remember being in London for a few months back in 2004 for a residency at Gasworks, and seeing with surprise how similar was for a twenty-something year old woman to be there or to be in Paraguay. The pressure, the stereotypes; everything was the same and I couldn’t believe it. There I developed some pieces regarding the perception of beauty, the heteronormativity of body concepts, and how the market gives shape to standards.
What are the next steps for you and your art? 
I’m preparing an exhibition in Buenos Aires, another one in Kansas City and the moment. And next year I’ll exhibit at the Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in which I’m working with curator Gabriela Salgado. Also, I’m director of the Fundación Migliorisi, that is a museum dedicated to exhibit contemporary art and design. (Created by Paraguayan artist Ricardo Migliorisi).
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