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Eel Soup, Federico Clavarino And Tami Izko’s Meditation On The Ephemerality Of Life

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For Italian photographer Federico Clavarino and Bolivian sculptor Tami Izko, the story behind the life of eels is the metaphoric inspiration for ‘Eel Soup’, an artistic conceptual series combining ethereal photography and sculptural works.

The story unfolds through photography, sculpture, and a short text, each woven together as commentary on the nature and changeability of living and nonliving forms. The imagery, shot by Clavarino, depicts poetic details of ordinary sights: puddles of water, plant life, sensual close-ups of bodies—and transforms them into abstract visuals with a rich textural element. In doing this, Federico cleverly portrays the materiality of his subjects and objects with a tactile quality, one that makes us want to reach into the frame. This process is further reflected in Izko’s sculptures, with their malleable forms and soft, muted colors. Her ceramics mimic the sinuous shapes of succulents and the trickling consistency of honey, in a manner that is both delicate and fluid. In the intimate short text that follows, the pair present their musings on the ephemerality of life:

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Entanglement, Berlin 2017. Image © Federico Clavarino

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Agave suicide, Barcelona 2017. Image © Federico Clavarino

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Dry heart, Pelči 2018. Image © Federico Clavarino

By detecting magnetic fields, eels migrate to the Sargasso Sea to reproduce. They leave rivers behind and swim towards the Ocean to meet what scientists call “their life’s goal”, after which they die. The offspring will then swim back to the rivers, which are thousands of kilometres away. Each eel travels at its own pace, arriving before, during or after spring. Their last journey is a lonely one, whereas new-borns will make their way back to the rivers along with others, and there they will share a life together.

Now imagine an eel soup: a wriggling mass of creatures whose ends and beginnings can be swapped in the human eye, trapped in a limited space, their bodies entangled below the surface or floating on top of it, half submerged in the liquid that now holds them.

Like the visible bits of the viscous animals you have just pictured, the objects presented here are fragments of an ephemeral reality. By carefully observing spaces and body parts as they twist, press, open, close, bend and touch, photography and clay have become our means to reinterpret a series of meaningful connections. The resulting series of reconfigurations ultimately tells a story of coexistence, one that is largely built around the lingering images left behind by otherwise vanishing intersections.

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Sandy Knees, Zambujeira do Mar 2018. Image © Federico Clavarino

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Love letters, Madrid 2017. Image © Federico Clavarino

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Cosset, stoneware, 30x10x6 cm, 2018, private collection, photograph Tommaso Tanini. Sculpture by Tami Izko.

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Baby eel, Lisbon 2018. Image © Federico Clavarino

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Home, Madrid 2016. Image © Federico Clavarino

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Honey, Lisbon 2018. Image © Federico Clavarino

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Melt, porcelain, 16x12x12 cm, 2019, photograph Tommaso Tanini. Sculpture by Tami Izko.

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Fold, stoneware, 16x24x24 cm, 2018, photograph Tommaso Tanini. Sculpture by Tami Izko.

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Torso, special porcelain, 25x13x12 cm, 2019, photograph Tommaso Tanini. Sculpture by Tami Izko.

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Snowskin, near Ceresole, 2016. Image © Federico Clavarino

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Andrea’s studio II, Berlin 2017. Image © Federico Clavarino

All images © Federico Clavarino unless stated. Sculptures by Tami Izko.