To celebrate Benetton key elements of Wool, Colour and the idea of Uniting people, the brand is hosting three simultaneous events on the 6th September. They will integrate an exhibition “Lana Sutra” by Erik Ravelo, 15 art installations made of bright coloured wools and sculptures. Here, the artist talks about his integration with Benetton and his art process.

Explain this worldwide event occurring on 6 September.
It is an event organized by Benetton that is a simultaneous event in its concept stores in Istanbul, Milan, Munich and on the web.

Tell us a little bit about your piece, “Lana Sutra” and its relevance with Benetton.

Lana Sutra is a project born by Fabrica, the communication centre of Benetton Group. Working at Lana Sutra has been like going back to my youth, when I attended Arts in Cuba. We studied Paintings, Sculpture, Engraving, but at that time I was already conscious that I was not really interested in a single discipline. I would have liked to do something more: a mix of everything. And at Fabrica with Lana Sutra I’ve had the opportunity to transform this thought into something real.

I’ve always loved the pure concept of mixture, of races as well as of different cultures, and this is what I found again in Benetton and in its communication. In the district where I spent my childhood there were people from all races and cultures, all together at the same school, just as if they were in a Benetton campaign. I like to think that LANA SUTRA is about all this: it speaks about coexistence and living together.

You work very closely with Benetton, including the magazine, Colors- how has your experience been with the brand?

I began collaborating with Fabrica, Benetton communication research centre, in 2002, when I produced three social communication campaigns commissioned by the World Health Organisation: “Violence”, “Road Safety” and “World no Tobacco Day”. Fabrica is a wonderful space to develop your own projects and ideas, because you have the great chance to discuss your thoughts with lots of other artists from all over the world. It’s an extraordinary melting-pot where you can think about new ideas, this is why I love it here.

United Colors of Benetton has always celebrated the idea of uniting different cultures and races- what does the brand mean to you? Why is it relevant today?
United Colors of Benetton for me is the icon of color, wool, mixture of cultures, religions and reaces. I’m a human being and I don’t believe in borders. I think the world belongs to everyone born on Earth. This is my planet, our planet. I like to think that is what Lana Sutra talks about: of the universal love that cancels diversity.

Can you walk us through your creative process from the birth of an idea to conceptualizing?

Fabrica itself is a melting pot where you can always find new influences and inputs. For example, Lana Sutra comes out of my desire to mix arts and communication, paintings and sculpture: in other words global coexistence and universal love. It’s an ode, a homage to “hybridisation”. Ever since I left Cuba I’ve been with girlfriends from other countries with different cultures, religions, lifestyles. My relationships are like an artist’s palette. For example, my girlfriend and her approach and way of doing things could be metaphorically blue, while I was red. Together, we were the interaction of these two colours.

From this personal experience I began thinking about Lana Sutra: a series of installations representing the moment of pure love and coexistence. The plaster casts have been modelled on real human couples embracing. It was a very long process requiring a huge amount of work. But I liked the idea of real people. I wanted their passions, what makes them tick, their eroticism and fatigue, flesh and sweat to become one with the material. I wanted them to be totally reflected in the sculptures.

How important is the use of different colours relevant in your work and to the brand of Benetton?

The use of colours is very important for this project. Observing each installation, each body has a very well defined colour, a symbol of their personality and cultural background. But the pure love between them is what melts the two colours together, creating a new colour. It’s what always happens with human beings: love is the only feeling in the world that makes people forget about their differences and melts them together as one.

Interview by Eunice Jera Lee