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Raíces - Interview with Isabel Rodriguez Ramos

All of us are connected to something or someone that in one way or another has helped us chart our path and become who we are at this moment. Whether it is a person, an object,or a place, our minds and often our bodies are led to want that connection, to desire it even if it gets us lost in an intricate maze of thoughts, memories, sounds, words, and smells.

When we decided to undertake the project on South America, we also did it with this consciousness, that is, to fill the need we had within us to know our roots and to get closer to the connection we have with our land, through what is our world today, that is, contemporary art.

As we come into contact with the different artists, we find that each of them carries within them this need, this strong connection to something that causes them to produce.
So there are those who grind miles to rediscover their family history, those who fight to defend their ideals, those who even though far away carry within them the colors of their place of origin, and finally those who, even not having been born in a place carry it in their hearts as something really deep and rooted and through their art spread it, trying in the best way to fill that deep need to know themselves.

Who is Isabel Rodriguez Ramos?

Born in Italy to an Italian mother and a Cuban father, she has established a deep relationship with that Latin part from which she comes, thanks above all to her father, a wonderful, tenacious and strong soul who has always supported and guided Isabel and has never let Isabel break that knot that binds them to their family, which although far away is always present. 

In this way Isabel has been able to build memories that are often transformed into images and sounds, and which she gives back to us in artistic form. 

Her quest, however, goes beyond mere exercise; it is a constant desire to belong, to discover to the very depths of where she really comes from, and to tell the story of the land "from where she does not come, but lives in her."

The Raìces Project

I have known Isabel for not very long, but long enough to understand the value of her work and the power of her research. So, in August, when she told me she was leaving for Cuba, my affirmation was "create something there too!" but she already knew she would, and in fact a month later, upon her return, she brings me a physical reminder of those days spent in Cuba and a breathtaking work "in progress."


"Raíces" is a collective artistic act of root investigation and was created to heal that perennial restlessness I felt, and still feel, growing up far from a land where I do not live, but which lives in me. In my perennial search for a sense of apar-

tenence, "Raíces" represents a moment of self-healing and fundamental awareness."


Conceived in three phases: Installation, Performance/ Video Art, Sound Art, Raícés is about family, tradition and deep ties.

Phase One: Installation

Hailing from El Sitio in the province of Pinar del Rio, a small town located in the far west of Cuba, Isabel's family has always worked the sacred tobacco plant. There was a large tobacco house there owned by an uncle of Isabel's, now unfortunately destroyed by the passage of Hurricane Ian in September 2022. Fortunately, however, before the destruction here, Isabel was able to produce the first phase of her work, which was a collective installation involving her whole family, namely the weaving of the word Raìces into a tapado cloth (a wide-mesh cloth used by farmers to protect plants from the sun's rays) using the veins of tobacco leaves. In this way, the first real connection was made, the roots weaving between family and tradition.

Phase Two: Performance/Video Art

Here begins the actual telling of this intimate story. The protagonist is Isabel and that dualism that inevitably lives in those with this inherent mixture of blood and traditions.

In the performance created by the artist and rendered on video, we see two distinct entities, two Isabels chasing each other without ever meeting until the end, when, finally, they merge and regain their bodies.

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"...two phantasmal entities chase each other through space without ever meeting although they travel the same trajectories. Only at the end of the journey do the two entities converge, merging and regaining corporeality in union."


It is perhaps like being reborn and gaining awareness of who one is. The act of chasing after each other, stripped of everything that weighs her down, covered by a simple veil that covers the body engaged in the act of escaping, but aware of where she wants to be. 

This second phase is crucial to understanding Isabel's needs. Nothing is left to chance-the location, the movements, the lighting, and the rendering in image of what the artist experiences firsthand. What we see is not simply a moment, what comes is memory, it is feeling, it is home! 

Third Phase: Sound Art

Isabel's work is 360-degree, from the image enclosed in a frame, it goes to video which then merges with sound. 

Her work, painstakingly fortunately, also includes the study and cataloging of the sounds of the place. In fact, the video is rhythmically accompanied by sounds from the place itself, "recorded with a zoom microphone." 

Interesting is the harmonic part, which comes from the recording of PlantsPlay, the first wearable device that allows people to listen to music generated by plants and trees directly on their smartphones. Through some sensors placed on the leaves or fruits, PlantsPlay transforms electrical changes into music, which can be sent via Bluetooth to the smartphone.

Isabel attached this device on tobacco leaves, which, inexplicably, precisely because they had already undergone the drying process, produced sounds. This soundscape, curated by sound artist Rossana De Pace, returned a complete panorama of the sounds that inhabit that place.


These three phases complete the Raìces project. Which is not only about Cuba and Isabel Rodriguez Ramos, but explains something much deeper and more intimate.

Living far away from one's home, having to rebuild it over and over again, having to start over and over again in a place that we do not often feel is ours, is a feeling that not everyone knows and that only those who know they belong in different places can explain...and here the power of the artistic instrument comes to us and here Isabel, without speaking tells us about a world that not all of us are capable of perceiving.


I thank enormously Isabel, artist and friend, who in these last months has been willing to give me and us the encounter with her precious art.


I invite you to visit her website and social channels so that you can learn about all her works.

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