“Manoteca is a little house in a park, a lab where old and abandoned things are hosted among recycled materials, reinvented and reassembled.”
If you happen to visit Elisa Cavani’s studio, don’t be fooled by how many seemingly abandoned objects you find. When she developed Manoteca Elisa wasn’t looking for a project that would be just another attempt at renewing objects that had fallen into disuse. Through her work she wanted to create new products that would carry a new spirit and express new meanings. Two years have passed and Elisa has demonstrated that aesthetic beauty is no longer solely the result of which raw materials are chosen. Instead, in her work the history and memories of objects once abandoned combine to harmoniously produce new meanings.
La nuit de noel by Manoteca
Finding new uses for things that are worn out or old reminds me of how resourceful my grandmother was. Has your family inspired your projects in any way?
My father has always despised everything that was old. He grew up after the war and his goal was a different life. Instead I was born in the ’80s, during the economic boom, and was fascinated by what I knew of my family’s past.
You’re right. Our grandmothers would never throw anything away. They grew up in difficult times, when it wasn’t that easy to get new stuff. Everything was treated sparingly and with care to make things last as long as possible. It’s strange how now we are reconsidering this attitude from the exact opposite approach: we try to avoid being overwhelmed by the waste of consumerism.
I remember my grandmother with great affection and emotion, she lives on in my mind and it’s from that place in my head that I get the most inspiration.
Olmo by Manoteca
Did you wear hand-me-downs when you were little? Do you wear vintage today?
That’s a funny question. I worked in fashion as a visual merchandiser for 9 years before creating Manoteca. Fashion is an important part of my training and the origin of my aesthetic sense.
When I was a child I never dressed in hand-me-downs, I just remember that I was comfortable, as a child should be, regardless of where his or her clothes come from. I always treated fashion like a game and clothes are one of the many ways to communicate something. I choose what to wear based on how I feel. I buy what I like and it doesn’t matter if it is signed, vintage or comes from a mall.
Do you usually think about the stories of the objects you use and are they important in the pieces you assemble?
Being attracted to an old object comes from the ability to project stories of a romantic past on it, probably the pure daydreaming that still makes us feel at home. We cover it with our memories, or perhaps the memories we would like to have.
I can’t know the real story of my objects, but through them I can say something about me. I use objects in allegorical form, each of them is a piece of a message, and the result is a metaphor.
As an artist, you must have a personal connection with your pieces. If you could, would you want to know where they ended up, in other words, their new stories?
I’d like to know where they live and how they are treated. I could cry if I knew any of them were harmed. When I mail items I enclose a letter with instructions on future care. Each of them is part of a time in my life that I remember perfectly, and am very fond of. They are pieces of me and reflections of what’s in my head. I consider them an intimate confidants.
How would you define what you do – renewing, recycling, upcycling, reusing, improving?
I don’t know. I create objects with recycled materials. This is the way I communicate.
The Beginning: Manoteca
Fausto by Manoteca