One creates, the other circulates. Bucharest-based Anca Adina Cojocaru and Irina Constantin are the duo behind Imaculatura, a design project that aims to unveil latent connections, expose collective affections and re-tell stories. Fashion’s unlikely spawn, Imaculatura comes into existence where conceptual art, literature, object design and performance intersect, with the tender task of assembling an emotional cosmos of things.
How did the two of you meet and set out to create Imaculatura?
The first series, Imaculate, I did alone - says Anca. I found the name in relation to this first series (Imaculatura: something that is clean or pure but also in excess, or like a mess; it was meant to be temporary but it stuck). It took me about six months to get it done and, when I finally made it, Irina saw the pieces and she called me. We kind of knew each other, but not really. Anyway, she had my phone number, which was good, ‘cause she called me to feature the pieces on the website she worked on at that time. We met, I said I work alone and would need help. She said she had the spare time. From that moment on, we kept on doing stuff together.
Could you please tell us how you define your work?
It’s a way to enlightenment and self-awareness. Useful therapy (to tame emotions). Necessity. Catharsis. In a way, also discipline (to manage scarce resources). Courage (to expose and exhibit). Transfiguration.
Would you say there is a gap that fashion is not filling? Is that what Imaculatura is about?
Fashion is doing just fine, thanks for asking. The gap is not in fashion, but in the work we do. Or rather the very long walk to close the gap. As we don't work with textiles alone, but also graphic design and performative stuff and object design and literature and language and others. I know, it's quite a crowded space, but all of these things come very naturally to us. Interconnectivity is instant. We do not start a project by saying: "today, I want to do something with fashion combined with this poem and that dance song". It just happens. So, to answer your question, we are the gap.
Tell us a bit more about your latest project, “Cry me a river”.
Cry me a river is a comfort object, a refillable soft tissue holder made of pink leather. The tissues stick out from this cut in the shape of Romania. It's about a personal emotion on a national scale: the idea of accumulation - everybody cries - that turns crying into ritual and whining into a national Olympics. A tragic trigger that ends in comic relief. Cry me a river is the second object in our ongoing series, Pasión por la Nación. The first one was The Erotic Coat: an old-school trench coat with erotic prints on the underlining. What do an erotic coat, a tissue holder and the national map have in common? Passion and the lack of it. The numb feeling.
From where do you take inspiration?
First I have to feel it, I'm like a resonance box that meddles with unaccountable sources or influences: a lot of graphic design, psychology, literature, contemporary dance, and pretty much any innovative stuff no matter the domain - explains Anca. The World Wide Web. Humour is an inspiration. These days though I get quite inspired reading interviews with artists.
At first glance, your aesthetic appears clean, almost essential. How does the visual aspect of your work reconcile with the message?
It's hard to separate them, since they don’t necessarily come to life in that order. Sometimes there are these images or shapes, a predominant colour that strikes first; and then, digging for deeper stuff, we find the idea that brought those shapes and colour, the essence of it. Other times, there is this thought or emotion and we think of the best way of putting it - it is then that we choose simple lines and clarity. The story behind every idea and the production process are usually complex and consuming so it’s nice when the result of it is simple, clean, essential, almost perfect.
What are you working on at the moment?
Something beautiful and enigmatic, called Prick, Tickle, Poison. It translates three famous flesh wounds into three objects. For this one, the inspiration was the Shakespearean quote: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we no die?"; the Caravaggio painting The Incredulity of Saint Thomas; hand gestures and choreography; personal suffering made somehow visible on the surface.