The Heart of It All
Anabella Bergero’s art installation Heart of Community, on view in Faena Art’s Project Room, has been extended through October 14.
What is your background as an artist? In the past 10 years of my life, I’ve lived in six different cities, so I’ve been crossing over geographic boundaries the same way I cross over artistic disciplines. Ever since I was a child growing up in Córdoba, Argentina I wanted to be a fashion designer. My grandmother taught me how to sew, crochet, knit, and embroider, which was part of our Italian family’s cultural heritage. When I was older, I studied architecture at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. I love the conceptual and philosophical approach to conceiving a built environment and how it influences the human experience. I later realized I wanted to do something closer to the body so I went to study fashion design at Universidad de Palermo in Buenos Aires; however, I always developed collections using a very conceptual approach, similar to how I’d research and create architectural designs. I later did a postgrad in London at Central Saint Martins that let me explore different disciplines from woodworking and silk printing to 3D scanning workshops. That’s when I really started creating a multidisciplinary practice. In 2018, I moved to New York City and started intensely researching gender identity within Latin America at the Fashion Institute of Technology, all of which came together to create this current exhibition.
How does this art installation explore Latinx gender identity? A lot of this exhibit comes from researching quinceañeras, religious pop iconography in Latin America, and how culture permeates borders. I used a wide range of materials and styles from murals and collages to fashion and silk screening. All of the photography you see are images I’ve taken and pieces I stitched by hand. I focused in part on quinceañeras because of their crucial role in the construction of womanhood in Latin America. In the exhibit, quinceañera gowns are embellished with Swarovski crystals and juxtaposed with colorful silk heart pillows emblazoned with pop images of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and a men’s mariachi costume decorated with images of dollar bills. As a Latinx woman who lived in Argentina, Mexico, and Europe, I began to realize that how one identifies and is perceived as a woman has a great deal to do with context. When I began exploring and integrating my own individual identity, I realized it was also an exploration that resonated with the collective.
What role does community play in art? Art exists within a context and cultural framework. It exists in community and in relation to one another. The community programming is the spinal cord of Heart of Community. We’ve had tie-dye workshops, open-mic podcasts, art and fashion talks, and in the fall, we’re going to start hosting heart-opening sessions through guided meditation to allow people to inhabit the space more sensorially and open to sources of joy and creativity within themselves. The Project Room and the Heart of Community installation act as a central hub to gather the neighborhood and visitors in a way that rethinks a typical art gallery where the artist isn’t the only one who creates in the space. The programming allows for acts of collective co-creation, and, in doing so, the bonds of community are strengthened. Through art-making, art-sharing, and art-thinking, we create each other and the world we inhabit.
What do you hope people will take from Heart of Community? I hope they take a sense of being represented and being seen. I also want them to take ownership of the space and create their own art here, which they’ll bring into their own homes, spaces, and lives—whether it’s a piece of clothing, a new friendship, or a new way of seeing the world.