Nicola Costantino (b.1964, Argentina)

Nicola Costantino was born in Rosario (1964) where she studied Fine Arts, produced and exhibited her first works, and also learned the new sculpture techniques that influenced the concept of her production; the molds of human and animal bodies cast from the original that characterize her work.

In 1994 with the support of Pablo Suárez, she attended the Barracas Workshop of Antorchas Foundation coordinated by Suárez and Benedit. Shortly after moving to Buenos Aires, she spent a year in Houston, Texas, in the Core Program for Artists, where she began producing silicon human skin to make dresses and lavish coats with human hair necks. Nicola learned design and haute couture in her adolescence working with her mother in her clothes factory, which allowed her to create “Peletería humana” [Human Furriery] a work of the finest quality.

Since 1997, the support of Benzacar Gallery facilitated her inclusion in the international art scene through her participation in art fairs. The following year, she presented her “Chanchobolas” [Hog-balls], an emblematic work from the animal sculpture line that she would continue with “Friso de nonatos” [Frieze of Unborn Animals] in 1999 and “Animal Motion Planet” in 2004.“Peletería Humana”, a window display with twenty mannequins dressed in Nicola’s designs, represented Argentina at the Biennial of Sao Paulo in 1998, whose director was Pablo Herkenhoff, and the theme “anthropophagy and cannibalism”. This presentation led to several exhibitions and international biennials, and the reproduction of her work a number of catalogs. The display was also shown in the First Liverpool Biennial and Jeffrey Deitch invited her to turn his Soho gallery into a boutique in September 2000. At the same time, the selection committee of the MOMA became aware of Nicola’s work and added her “Male Nipples Corset” to their collection. This was followed by a show at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Buenos Aires [Buenos Aires National Museum of Fine Arts] and a second one in the projects room of The Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona.

In 2004, Nicola presented “Animal Motion Planet”, a series of orthopedic machines for unborn animals, consisting of chromed iron mechanisms powered by engines, and she launched “Savon de Corps” [Body Soap] at the MALBA [Buenos Aires Museum of Latin American Art], which is formed by a multiple of 100 pieces imitating an exclusive cosmetic product. Nicola produced this soap with 3% of fat from a liposuction and created the slogan “Take a bath with me” that attracted media attention. Nicola became the artist, the model and the prime matter of her work.From then on, Nicola’s public relevance gave sense to her later production. The encounter with Gabriel Valansi in 2006 marked her entrance in the world of photography. In her work, she has combined two types of images: a series that refers to important works in the history of photography and art, and others that crisscross some element of her imaginary and her identity as an artist. The constant is her role as leading character representing different personalities, glamorous and feminine, hard worker, maternal, intimidating. In this last production, marked by her maternity, she adds the value of her experience as a sculptor to replicate herself and create her own double.

Nicola Costantino "achieves in her art what visual arts should do: her sculptures, installations, videos, and photographs catch the eye and alter perception. Because they are predominately rooted in sensation, and not just in concepts, her artworks trigger an immediate, physical reaction. Casts of animal fetuses, molds of human skin, and soaps made with the artist’s own fat build up a tension between ornamentation and revulsion. Her innovation revolves around ethical values and the alienation from nature. Even sexuality is turned into compulsion, flesh, and transmuted bodies, turning everything into an oppressive eroticism." (from "Nicola Costantino" published in 2013 by Hatje Cantz).

Costantino was Argentina's representative in the 55th edition of the Venice Biennale, summer 2013.

In 2015, filmmaker Natalie Cristiani released her directorial debut with a gorgeous cinematic tribute to Costantino, drawing audiences into her dark and mysterious work and the rigorous process of preparing to exhibit at the Venice Biennale. As much as the film is a portrait of Costantino, it also uniquely pulls us into her art, making viewers into participants. See Trailer here

Costantino, Nicola b.1964

related artists / Argentina / Latin America