Artist Lolita Eno recognises nature as her mother with much of her art centring around this intimate relationship. Her fusions of the physical forms of the human and the animal are a celebration of the love that is shared between creatures unlike themselves, a love that transcends material barriers. Her art is both fundamental and futuristic: it encourages both to remember our ancient connection with nature and to look forward to how that bond will evolve.
In anticipation of her second solo show being held in Madrid, Arco Art fair February 21, Lolita talks us through her various projects. From her 2021 endeavour FURSONA to her collaborations with Didu, both at performing at Paris Fashion Week and working with them on her campaign Lost in Translation. Transforming models, sculptures, clothes, and even herself into her art, Lolita works not to turn one thing into another, but to unite contraries.
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Could you please start by introducing yourself and your work to our readers?
I’m Lolita Eno, I’m Spanish, from Madrid. Three years ago, I started this path that I am on now. Previously I had a digital character called Lolita, which was basically my online persona that I have transformed until, curiously and unconsciously, reaching the starting point of my life [again]. When I was little, I used to spend 24 hours a day drawing hybrid people with animals. And the truth is that it has been a surprise to see how unconsciously I have been transforming myself up until returning to phase 1 of my life, it’s literally cyclical.
I love my job and this love is made up of many things, both the love for art and creativity in general as well as the love for nature, biology, life, and animals, along with my desire to disconnect materially and connect emotionally.
Whenever I think of the idea of the sublime I think of architecture of some sort, industrial colour, and nature in it. I use this channel to accord with my own concept of kindness and empathy, which in this case I have developed greatly towards nature and especially animals. At the same time, I use it to distance myself from more empty and material thoughts. It’s basically like a therapy for me, I’m a very emotional person and I need to get in touch with my strong emotions.
What do you think sparked your interest in producing your own art?
I’ve always produced my own stuff; I think it’s something I was born with. Since I was little, I have always been drawing, playing with my imagination...
The truth is that I am always thinking of ideas, and it is simply something that comes to my mind. I would say that I do not have any kind of control over it or over the ideas that I have, it is something completely not rationalised. It is simply something that happens in a moment It’s like magic. Back when I was about 3 years old, in the first stages of creativity, making “art”, I just couldn’t live without it, my life would be meaningless, and I wouldn’t know who I am.
Later on, when I studied and trained myself, new technologies caught my attention and how I could be creative with them, so I began to look at artists like Jon Rafman or Amalia Ulman. From there it curiously evolved backwards. I started with 3D, with digital and little by little I began to combine the digital process with the traditional photography process and finally take it to the sculpture process which I am very interested in continuing with. Currently almost all my references are artists who are not in the digital field at all, they tend to be in sculpture, painting or performance like Vanessa Beecroft or Dona Huanca.
A lot of your work seems to blend the physical forms of the human and animal. What is it that interests you so much about merging two worlds that are so separate yet so interconnected?
I was just born doing it and I guess it’s my way of creating new beings, without race. It can also be a utopian vision of the future of the survival of the beings of the earth, with all the digitisation, the AI, the destruction of the planet... I see it as a form of future survival, but not only because of the appearance of humanised animals, but because of what love means as a survival mechanism for the species.
If it were not for love, many species would have become extinct and I am not referring to procreation, but to love between species. The elephant helping the rabbit because he loves him. I also believe that nature is wiser than us in every way and they are connected where we no longer are, and we use technology to reach that connection. A silly example of this may be the ability of animals to know that a natural disaster is coming. We need technological indicators to get there when animals have it naturally. I am passionate about biology, and I love creating possibilities of biological beings that surely there has been a serious possibility throughout the history of the universe where these beings could have existed or do exist.
Could you talk a bit about the creative process behind how you bring these creatures to life?
As I have said before, it just happens, walking down the street, in the car, it always happens when I’m moving. After having the first idea, I start to think about it a bit and how I could do it, budget and which models I want. Apart from my best friend in the industry who has also helped me a lot to find myself as an artist and person, Stephania Yepes. In addition to being an incredible person, she is also an incredible creative person who has shared her world with me and mine with her. I take her into account in all my creative processes because her voice is inside me in some way and because I adore her, and I think she is one of the most talented people I have ever met.
So, I think that the process that I carry out is always made up of love: love for the idea and love for the people who embark on it with me. Obviously, there are times when you have to put up with people you can’t stand but that’s life. I usually ask myself obsessively who I am and what I feel every day and I never answer myself with words, but I do answer myself with images. Once I have a good concept, visually incredible (for me) and consistent with who I am, I proceed to the shoot and then I have the biggest job of all in terms of time and effort, the post-production that can take months if it is very complicated. As for the sculpture, I skip the step of [building] the team, but everything else is the same.
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The hybrid creatures of your art are also often positioned quite provocatively. What do you think your art says about the dialogue between the exoticism of animals and fetish?
And I know that this is when it gets dark, because like every Scorpio person at some point the dark had to come. Sex is the beginning of life; it is the survival of the species, and it is something natural that is in life and we must begin to normalise it as long as it is consented and there is respect. Sex is reproduction and without sex these creatures that I create would not exist. So it seems to me a basic concept that is given to me by what I represent as an artist, the evolutionary discourse that I have and as the beginning of life.
The beginning of human life is the vagina of a woman, the beginning of animal life is the vagina of the females of that species. Stage 1 of life, the greatest power that exists and what has the most value for survival and for life: motherhood. We do not have maternity in society as a job or something that should be taken into account when financially compensating, but maternity is a great job on which it depends a lot. Every great human being in the world contributes so much to the evolution of everything and the beginning of this life is sex.
With my pieces I am not supporting bestiality or at least it is not at all my intention, although here I am going to say something crazy that many people are going to hate me when they read this: If you are in the sea and you are going to rape a dolphin and the dolphin does not want it, most likely you will die horribly, this is only possible if the dolphin wants to, just like a lion or any strong wild animal capable of killing you.
Of your 2021 project FURSONA with King Kong Magazine, you mentioned that the concept presents “the post-human mythologies for a future of co-existence”. Are you optimistic about the future of the human relationship with nature?
I do not have such global knowledge of anything, from the point of view of a Western person I would say yes with a lot of doubts. I don’t know what the opinion of an Asian or an African would be, how these people live.
Clearly there are large corporations like Amazon, which are literally burning the Amazon, who have greenwashed themselves tremendously in ads or disgusting claims about caring for nature. Everything we see is not always true, and we must not believe what we are told or hear for certain. Those who seem to change the world (large corporations) really only do to exploit it and then wash it down with good marketing. You have to keep in mind that the people with real power don’t give a shit about all these things and only want to exploit the earth’s resources.
As in the engorillamiento of all the billionaires by the space race. Although there are billionaires in this case like Elon Musk that the truth is that if they are contributing to improve various aspects, whether you like it or not, it is a fact. By this I am referring to Tesla, electric cars, we will have to see what happens with the batteries of these, but of course it is a leader in the transition from gasoline cars to electric ones. Or for example Space X, it has nothing to do with the earth, it’s true, but what it’s doing is incredible.
With climate change looming on the horizon, I am very afraid and have a somewhat pessimistic vision in terms of human consciousness, compassion for life and the measures imposed. However, I am optimistic in terms of technology and inventions to prevent, improve or avoid this. The truth is that we are going against the clock, but I hope that we can win the hand of this black swan.
But let’s not kid ourselves, the only thing that makes sense to bet on here, to get out of this, is technology and our scientists. In my opinion, the real solution to stop climate change is to inject money into study, innovation, and science. The machine is not going to stop, and the daily measures are worthless because we are not going to comply with them all, that weighs on the conscience of everyone.
Do you believe in respecting natural limitations and boundaries or are they there to be pushed? Perhaps even broken?
In a world of conscience, respect and love, I do believe in it and that it can be done, in a world of Monkey Mind I don’t believe it can be done. I personally respect and take care of nature as much as I can, it is my mother, and I am grateful for being alive and experiencing what I have to experience. I love hugging trees when I go trekking with my friends, I recommend it to everyone. I also give them kisses and I say thank you.
And respecting nature is not always pretty, there is nothing more brutal or harsher than nature, the process is the selection of the strongest and the disappearance of species for not being able to adapt to the environment sufficiently. All that is a nightmare, I respect her, but I cry for it. And that with all the pain in your heart is to respect nature. But nobody touches my dog.
You also began presenting some of your art as NFTs in March 2021. What is it about this newer artistic mode that appeals to you?
I am not attracted to NFT per se, but it has been a new way for so-called digital artists (I include myself because I started in the digital field) and it seems to me that it has been a way of valuing the 5000 hours that we have all spent in the computer appreciating new technologies. The generation that has now come out with NFTs have been the pioneers of digital art and I think it’s lovely to be a part of it. The NFT is a good invention in itself because it allows you to track all the hands that work has passed through, in no case are you going to buy a fake.
The NFT is a bad invention because it pollutes a lot (and who doesn’t?). But in general, I have good things to say, since it has given value to many computer art geeks and has positioned it in the market, and this had to happen now and it has happened through NFTs, although purists still deny it. In the end, the art market is a market where a lot of money moves through speculation as well, I don’t see it differently in that sense from the NFT market. In fact, I understand that the NFT market is an art market but in Crypto values. Probably the future if we decide to make the banks disappear and we all join decentraland.
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In October 2022 you also performed for Didu at Paris Fashion Week! Could you tell us a bit about that experience?
I love Didu, she is one of my favourite designers as well as an excellent person who believed in me and it was beautiful to be able to merge the two and create what we ended up creating. The performance I Can’t Hide My Anger took place during Didu’s presentation and fashion show at Paris Fashion Week.
Didu is Chinese and she made this collection during the lockdown in China, obviously it was a nightmare because they kept locking people up. Basically, the performance was to lock myself inside my body slowly passing cold clay all over my body until I couldn’t move any part of my body, I froze and stayed in one position for two hours.
It just happened, it was intense, and it hurt a little bit but all because of the concept and all because of Didu, it was pretty amazing, and everyone loved it. Didu inspired me a lot to be able to do this concept of basically killing myself while I was alive, it was Scorpio energy (we are both), fully.
You also worked with Didu on the Lost in Translation campaign. This campaign was somewhat of a departure from your previous work. Why did you choose to focus on the concepts of death and resurrection? Where did the inspiration come from?
As I said Didu and I share a very similar energy, very scorpion, death, and resurrection. In the end, the energy that someone transmits to you is everything and you just have to read it. When I talked to her, she basically gave me a super deep and very renewing energy, so I began to see her clothes in a more spiritual way and basically as channels of transportation to another place where the flesh is not.
Fashion has always been quite superficial in some way, but in it I saw the opposite and I wanted to take the concept to a completely metaphysical field and a field that connects with feelings even if they are not good feelings, for me the emotional part is very important of things. I could never do a fashion campaign that didn’t talk about emotions.
You said that you wanted to create a sense of being “propelled into another uncontrollable energy” and that your “idea was to use fashion as a funeral channel or a spiritual channel”. How did you work to bring this particular vision to life for Lost in Translation?
The truth of life (my truth that I believe) is that you are really not in control of almost anything, life pushes you, things push you and you react as your physique is programmed at a biological level to react. I wanted to tell the truth.
I started working on this concept right away, I passed it on to my friends from the royal production company and they immediately did an incredible job as always, my friend Stephania Yepes was also helping me on set doing the styling, in short the whole team was great and the doing it was very smooth because everyone empathised with the concept and the truth is that when something works, it’s smooth and it goes by itself. After the session I was editing for a month or so and the campaign was born, I feel super proud of that work.
Finally, looking forwards, what are your plans for the future?
I have my second solo show in Madrid at the end of February for the Arco Art Fair in the Bate Work Gallery space, I hope that those of you who read this come to see me. I’ve had very little time to prepare this but I’m sure you’ll love it. I also have other projects that I would love to say because I’m dying to do them, but I can’t say anything until I have everything closed, I have to bite my tongue here.
My long-term plans (right now) for the future are basically to exhibit, exhibit, and exhibit all over the world wherever I can and focus more on my purely artistic work than on fashion, but also on fashion. Look, whatever comes, I’m happy. One more thing, I want to talk about a person that I adore and admire in equal measure. This person is Emma Stern. We will probably do something together this year, in 2023. The truth is that it is a dream to work with people like her, she is an incredible artist apart from being an even better person, so I hope we can do this together, the most important thing for me is to put my heart into it in what I do and with her it will be totally like that.
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