Isaac Cordal

Isaac Cordal is an artist, sculptor and photographer. Originally from Spain, he travels around the world and creates sprawling art installations in urban areas, parks and other locations. His work critiques different aspects of the places he visits: the country’s politics, climate change, and in some cases, just whether or not people will stop and notice art when they aren't looking at it in a museum.

Cordal's series "Cement Eclipses" picked up traction on Tumblr, where a post (which has since been taken down) featuring his work had more than 40,000 notes. "Cement Eclipses" was an installation in Chiapas, Mexico that featured miniature skeletons embedded in locations around the city.

Fusion caught up with Cordal over email.

"American Dream" by Isaac Cordal. All images courtesy of Isaac Cordal.

FUSION: Where are you located now?

CORDAL: I'm in Galicia, Spain.

FUSION: Why the tiny skeletons in Chiapas? And the more realistic figures in St. Petersburg?

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CORDAL: In Chiapas I wanted to do something related to popular culture. It is very interesting to explore the symbolism of Mexico's Day of the Dead, as well as the culture's relationship with death. I really like the imagery and beauty of Mexican handicrafts. The Mask of Tezcatlipoca is perhaps one of my favorite pieces, as well as the artwork of José Guadalupe Posadas.

My primary idea for "Cement Eclipses" was to create small sculptures depicting contemporary human beings converted into part of the urban landscape, as if they were fossils in the city. In St. Petersburg, I worked with some of my characters from my "Follow the Leaders" series. They represent businessmen in different situations as a metaphor for the collapse of capitalism.

"Border" by Isaac Cordal

FUSION: Do you make the statues? What materials do you use?

CORDAL: I make them, normally in cement. This material has powerful symbolism: it is one of humanity's footprints against nature.

From "Cement Eclipses" by Isaac Cordal

FUSION: We harvest cement from nature but turn it into buildings and roads for our cities. Is that juxtaposition part of why you use that material?

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CORDAL: I think it's interesting when people build their own monuments. That is like the real skin of the city. When you see all of this in the streets, even just little messages that people paint on the walls, you can feel that the city is alive. When cities are completely clean, it comes to my mind that is artificial. It’s more natural that the city speaks through its walls.

Part of Isaac Cordal's "Cement Eclipses" series

FUSION: What makes you choose these cities and specific locations for your installations?

CORDAL: Usually I do my work in places that I have a chance to travel to. The locations are very important: more than my artwork, I look for interesting places lost in the cities or in the countryside. Sometimes I can walk for hours looking for a good spot and not find one interesting place.

"Freedom of Thought" by Isaac Cordal

FUSION: Are there legal risks in your work? Do you ever ask for permission to install your artwork?

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CORDAL: I never ask for permission; I've never had any problems yet. I don’t know, someone could say they don’t like it, but it’s very easy to remove. I think it’s not legal, but I’m not sure it is illegal.

From Isaac Cordal's series on climate change

FUSION: How does your work explore the effects of climate change?

CORDAL: I have made ​​several pieces about the issue of climate change, as well as our relationship with nature in general. There are many problems that are intertwined with each other when it comes to society and how we treat our environment.

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"Waiting for climate change" was a project made for a park called Beaufort04 on the Belgian coast. It is a series of sculptures rising to poles in front of the sea. This installation represents citizens who are prepared for a possible disaster but completely submerged in their smartphones.

"Desordes Creativas" by Isaac Cordal

FUSION: Why do you choose to do this free-range outdoor installation instead of more traditional gallery work?

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CORDAL: I like being involved in street art in a very natural way. Nothing is planned. The street is a good place to create art, because it is open 24 hours a day and you can find everything you need.

From "Cement Eclipses" by Isaac Cordal

FUSION: Tell me about the name "Cement Eclipses." Your site says it’s a "critical definition of our behavior as a social mass" - what does that mean?

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CORDAL: By that, I mean mass social behavior is a result of the interaction of individuals, but also an autonomous body: it's a kind of public transportation that seems to minimize the acts produced by the collective. Control of mass psychology has created a new world dominated by elites. Individuals become infected with mass behavior and simply accept everything without question, including climate change and poor leadership. Our society is more enslaved by a collective consciousness and financial markets are our new spiritual guides.

Cement Eclipses is a reflection on the progress and side effects in our society. Progress has been globalized for the benefit of a few, and time has accelerated, so what was previously a diversity of cultures seems to be forced to exist in the same date and time now.

From "Cement Eclipses" by Isaac Cordal

FUSION: What future installations do you have planned?

CORDAL: I have a project about modern slavery.

"Survivors" by Isaac Cordal

FUSION: What do you want people to get out of your artwork?

CORDAL: I do not know really. First I hope they can find it somewhere. My intention is to reflect on the world through these small sculptures. With small gestures maybe we could change the overall inertia.

"The Office" by Isaac Cordal

Andy Dubbin contributed to this reporting. This interview has been lightly edited.