Coco Capitán’s alliterative name is currently resounding through the industry at an alarming rate. At 25 years of age, the multi-medium artist is fresh from the Royal College of Art where, even in her time of study, her relentless work ethic and unparalleled aesthetic awareness has established her as a creative force to be reckoned with.
Growing up in Seville, Spain, Capitán spent a great deal of her time in the swimming pool. As an adolescent she dreamt of becoming an Olympic athlete and representing her country in synchronised swimming. Although she chose the art world in the end, a far cry from her chlorine filled youth, it isn’t difficult to equate the dedication and self-reflective qualities of an Olympian to Coco’s personality, which has most definitely translated through to her art. Since her teenage years, her process of self exploration has led her to the medium of self-portraits. Not to be confused for a common “Selfie”, which is a term that Coco quickly rejects from any association with her work, she uses self-portraiture as a way of exploring her innermost thoughts and feelings, mentioning that she always hopes to put herself in front of the camera, and we hope that she keeps to that endeavour.
Each aspect of Coco’s creative skillset could stand alone, but the fact that she is not confined to one medium, means that she can process the world from different perspectives, navigating reality through photographing, writing and painting. Her unique eye for colour and structure is no doubt down to her refined knowledge of each medium, which could arguably be why she has done so well to establish herself in a saturated industry.
With an evidently fresh perspective on the world, Coco’s communication of how she sees reality is important. In February 2017, Capitán collaborated with Alessandro Michele at Gucci, to communicate what could be seen as a politically poignant message. Coco’s slogans were scrawled, in her familiar handwriting, over clothes, walls and parasols, at their Milan fashion week show, prompting immediate reflection from the viewer. Asking “what is all of this future going to do with us?” and stating that “common sense is not so common” her contribution to the show made it one of the most talked about of the week. Her voice, in the statements used, was seemingly representative of a confused generation trying to analyse their current reality, whether that be political or personal or something completely different.
This powerful message, from an introspective being, can only therefore provoke extreme excitement for her first photo book “Middle Point Between My House and China”. Inspired by first visit to China, 9 years ago, the book was initially inspired by a daydream she once had as a child. Described as a deeply personal response to a vast and complex land, she explores the notion of the self looking at the other, in what is bound to be a unique observation of a culture that is not all that familiar to a western world. In the run up to its release we managed to get hold of Coco, despite her packed schedule, to ask her some questions about the soon to be released photo book and her creative process as a whole. So all hands on deck, it is time to meet your new Capitán.
Semaine: How does it feel to finally have a published photo book?
Coco: It feels good! It marks a closing chapter of my life.
Semaine: How long have you been making it for?
Coco: It’s been 9 years since my very first trip to China.
Semaine: What are the key themes explored?
Coco: The self looking at the other.
Semaine: You moved to London when you were 17, but when did you know you wanted to pursue your art?
Coco: I moved to London to pursue an art career.
Semaine: Why London?
Coco: Why not.
Semaine: Do you think the city has had a profound effect on your identity?
Coco: Yes and No.
Semaine: Would you say this is reflective in your art?
Coco: No, I don’t think my art is necessarily about the city I live in.
Semaine: What inspires you most?
Semaine: When was your first self-portrait and why were you doing it?
Coco: As a teenager, it was an exercise of self exploration.
Semaine: Would you ever call them selfies?
Coco: Please, no.
Semaine: Will you still be taking self-portraits 20 years from now?
Coco: Of course.
Semaine: How free do you feel using different mediums? Is there a significance of what different mediums represent to you?
Coco: Photography is my favourite way for researching reality. Writing helps me to analyse it. And painting, I run away from it.
Semaine: Despite your use of film, you do still share things digitally, is this something you enjoy doing or is it simply an online portfolio?
Coco: I think one doesn’t exclude the other. Instagram is not my portfolio, it’s just a way to keep connected to my friends and other creatives.
Semaine: What is it to be an artist today?
Coco: It’s just a job as any others.
Semaine: You’re notoriously hardworking, and certainly very in demand, do you ever feel burnt out? How do you overcome this?
Coco: Yes, of course I do. Whenever possible, I take a holiday somewhere new.
Semaine: Does this effect which jobs you take?
Coco: Of course, you have to be selective.
Semaine: Why the use of poetry in your work? Why is poetry significant to you?
Coco: Sometimes I just write down whatever comes to my mind. Other times I spend hours analysing words or sentences. I think words are very precious and if put together in the right order they can create a linguistic masterpiece that feels like your favourite painting. People call this poetry, but I prefer not to use that word, because poetry seems reduced to poets and language intellectuals.
Semaine: When did you start incorporating your writing alongside your photography or has it always been this way?
Coco: Writing has always been an essential part of my process.
Semaine: What is your life manifesto?
Coco: Before I die I want to live.
By Kezia Navey for Semaine.