Alicia Framis is a Spanish/dutch artist who lives and works in Amsterdam and is considered one of the most important artists in Europe for her social involvement in women and minority issues in today’s society. As an artist, she carries out large-scale interventions to shake up systems and conventions. Her interventions, which are often made in collaboration with citizens, can be seen as social sculptures, combining art, architecture, design, garments, and performance. Public participation is a key component in Framis’ artistic practice. Her work creates new possibilities for living together.
Framis is a multidisciplinary artist who comments, in her practice, on outdated or uneven societal power structures and misgivings, formulating in her projects that range in scope from performance art, design, architecture, and garments, new ways of reclaiming social spaces for the underprivileged, overseen, undervalued, in contemporary cultures. As an artist she deals directly with her role as part of society, staging large-scale interventions to shake up economic systems and social structures. Her interventions are often seen as social sculptures, combining the designed aesthetic and idealist conviction, as an artwork with an active role for the viewer. Her projects were presented at many of the world’s most renowned museums and biennales and are part of prominent international public and private collections. Based on her artistic ideologies she founded and directed the MA program The Commoners Society at Sandberg Institute, the master’s program of the renowned Rietveld.
My projects almost all dealt, directly or indirectly, with the many varied causes and signifiers of anxiety-induced isolation and loneliness as it emerges in cities, specific to the ways people find their lives isolated from their more traditionally set up communities as they as individuals fall through the cracks of top down-regulated social, medical, and financial support systems. However different the lives we lead, the rituals we practice, to connect to our social and communal backgrounds and roots, informal social structures of cohabitation we find ourselves existing in. All these formal and informal networks of organized engagement for support crumble to decay when they are not carefully monitored to change within society as it evolves through time, bureaucratic processes, and through political currents.
In Barcelona, Spain I encountered loneliness most likely to multiply in specific neighbourhoods where people from too diverse cultural backgrounds in the lower socio-economic rungs of society cohabitate as regulated by income bracket, losing the direct social links for support that once existed in a more culturally homogenous make-up of communities. Monchengladbach, Germany I encountered loneliness seeping into late-stage lives where medical support systems for the elderly were too pragmatically universalized for administrative regulation. These are just two examples I encountered where support systems failed. These systems, that with the clearest intentions design social care through intricately thought-out systematic logistics, oftentimes end up stripping the inherently needed solidarity from the process in streamlining it as a workable product to be delivered and administratively organized.
In my projects, these encountered societal mishaps and divides have always been the inspiration and starting point for collectively organized and executed action through performance art: workshops in Monchengladbach (project Loneliness in the City) to get the elderly out of their home isolation into workshops with artists, designers, and architects, working in collaboration with local social workers and teachers; rapid prototype R&D sessions with Swiss designers and architects in Zurich, Switzerland (project Loneliness in the City); streetlight solutions to shorten walking distances for women in the dark evenings in Helsinborg(project: anti-DOG Helsinborg), Sweden. The universal stories in these previous examples described, in a more recent instant I worked with the individual experience of insomnia during the Covid-19 pandemic, creating canvases as inspirational sigils as inspirational catchphrases to light up during the darkness as lonely space of individually experienced anxiety in nighttime’s solitude. Title: Leave Here Your Fears and The Insomniacs.
Framis’s work has been widely featured in museums, galleries, and public spaces around the world. Her works are included in numerous permanent collections, including those of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C in the United States, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art Beijing (China), El Museo del Barrio New York (US), Philadelphia Museum (US), Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst (Switzerland), Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (Netherlands), The National Museum of Modern Art Kyoto (Japan), and Rabo Art Collection (Netherlands), among others. Framis represented the Netherlands for the Dutch Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003).