Home | News | Artist Clara Montoya presents her work ‘Ignota’, created at the first artist residency at the CNIO

Artist Clara Montoya presents her work ‘Ignota’, created at the first artist residency at the CNIO


Help us to stop cancer

Presentation of Ignota, by Clara Montoya, at CNIO. From the left: Inmaculada Aguilar, FECYT director; Maria A. Blasco, CNIO's scientific director; Clara Montoya, author, and Juan de Nieves, director of CNIO's Image Office, by the piece 'Ignota'. Crédito: Esther Sánchez / CNIO.

Science and art can inspire each other. This is the premise behind the art and science initiatives of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO), such as the CNIO Artist Residency program launched in collaboration with the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT).

Clara Montoya (Madrid 1974), the artist selected in the first edition of this program, presented yesterday at the Margarita Salas Auditorium of the CNIO the result of her residency: the sculpture Ignota, a large rotating prism in 7 mm laminated, black tinted glass. It consists of three 2.25 m high and 1.57 m wide panels, separated by narrow slits that, when approached closely, allow a view to their core.

Montoya detailed the context for the creation of Ignota and the story surrounding the work: the piece “combines the idea of cancer as a system that, with a discordant something, breaks the rules within another system “, and means for research “a fractal territory in which, the deeper you go, the more you find”.

Ignota “captures a mystery, a boundary between the known and the unknown, constantly moving to a different point as knowledge advances, forcing us to pursue it,” explains Montoya.

In movement

That’s why the work is opaque, only the slits let you see its inside and hide it again with the turn. It is necessary to move in order to pursue them. At the same time, “the movement also intends to reflect the small engine each of our cells represents, the one we are ourselves. The DNA ever reproducing itself and whose interior we have not been able to penetrate visually,” adds the sculptor.

Montoya’s intervention was followed by a round table in which, in which she joined Inmaculada Aguilar, Director of FECYT; Maria A. Blasco, Director of the CNIO; and Juan de Nieves, Director of CNIO’s Image Office.

The struggle to solve an enigma

For Inmaculada Aguilar, Ignota “inspires the feeling that there is never an end to the complex and constant gaze, like that of science towards its object of study”. The director of the FECYT also emphasized “that this work dialogues with the very space that inspired it. It is a very unusual example of the good pairing between art and science”.

Blasco appreciates “that the piece reflects and absorbs everything and, at the same time, makes an incomprehensible effect, because you ignore what it holds inside. It refers to that capacity to absorb and collect data that is inherent to the mechanism of science”.

The artist stressed in this regard that “Ignota is nothing without the CNIO, it talks about the struggle to solve an enigma, the research, this whole institution. Even the material refers to the exterior facade of the building”.

The monolith of 2001 and Spirited Away

Juan de Nieves, for his part, pointed out the reference to the mysterious concept of the monolith –present, for example, in the movie 2001, a space odyssey– that is included in the work, and underlined how the location inside the CNIO, between the revolving door and the turnstiles, adds elements to Montoya’s story. In a parallelism with cancer, “it could resemble the character Faceless in the film Spirited Away, as he crouches waiting to be invited in and, once inside, devoures one by one all other characters,” says Montoya.

CNIO Deputy Director Óscar Fernández-Capetillo confirmed this parallelism: “Indeed, it causes that uneasy feeling of facing the black beast that we are working on, but we are patient, and we find the cracks to access it”.

The CNIO and art

The CNIO has an important commitment to the art world since the creation of CNIO Arte in 2017, a program organized with the help of the Banco Santander Foundation. Each year, CNIO ARTE brings together leading international scientists and artists whose collaboration culminates in an exhibition of the work created by the artist for the occasion, which is displayed both at the CNIO and at the ARCO Contemporary Art Fair.

The CNIO Artist Residency program, launched last year, funds an artist for a six-month stay at the CNIO to create a work inspired by cancer research.

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