Tall letters made out of mirrors and steel cast their shadows onto a screen in Manchester-based artist, Elisa Artesero's installation, DREAMERS, which debuted at Lumiere Durham 2015. Visitors could interact with it to create their own shadows, their movements transforming the Japanese paper screen-inspired letters, each visitor adding something new to the composition.
For Stories Under Our Feet, Artesero created a light installation beneath the benches of the Manchester Central Library in the UK. Passersby could see the shadows of letters that formed words under the benches. In this way, they could reassess the public space as something new: as a canvas for art, a backdrop for dream-like messages. “I could envisage ephemeral words and stories spilling out from under them and onto the pavement, as if they were emerging from the building itself,” writes Artesero. “I then developed a series of short observational poems drawing on changing weather and seasons to create moments of contemplation for people walking by or sitting on the benches.”
The artist finds inspiration in exploring the subconscious and the dream world, often creating atmospheres that aim to make the viewer feel disoriented or disconnected from reality. “I am curious about the transience of our existence and the ways we relate to consciousness and the Unconscious,” Artesero tells The Creators Project in an email. “Dreams are places where our desires manifest, where anything is possible. I play with and create spaces I imagine/dream and place them into a real world for others to explore.”
She hopes that viewers will “feel curious about exploring” when they encounter her pieces; most audience members have admitted “feelings of either fear or wonder” after seeing her installations. “It’s the ability to elicit or facilitate these sensations and emotions that drive my work,” she writes. “We take a lot of our daily lives and experiences for granted, letting internal thoughts and concerns stop us from fully engaging with experiences as they happen. If my installations can undo our autopilot and create an experience to engage with, then that’s one of my major motivations.”
Even while these words might beckon us—many viewers' eyes might roam around the space in an effort to string words together into phrases or sentences—they also encourage us to let go. In accepting the dreamlike environments that Artesero creates, we can find something new in ourselves.
Finding inspiration in Japanese aesthetics, Zen poetry, and the work of Haruki Murakami, Artesero also draws upon “symbols and archetypes” to create her work. She says she'd love to re-stage DREAMERS and encourages art enthusiasts to suggest other libraries or spaces that might be a good fit for the installation by contacting her on her website.