Marta & Carla Cascales Alimbau translating objects into sounds

``For us, Numeroventi has represented the confirmation of the importance of dedicating some time per year to work on more personal and experimental projects, leaving our environment and intensively work together to obtain new and different results``

Marta and Carla Cascales Alimbau are two sisters from Barcelona (Spain). Marta is a pianist and composer of contemporary classical music; and Carla is a minimalist sculptor and painter, with a strong influence of the Wabi-sabi culture.

Their interest in working together is fusing Music and Sculpture; this is what made them to take part in artistic residencies as VAR Program (San Francisco, summer 2017) and now Numeroventi (Florence, summer 2018).

Numeroventi: When did you both respectively start your work as composer and artist?

Carla: I studied communications and design. For a few years I felt comfortable working as a designer; I learned all of the basics about image composition, drawing, color combinations. But something inside of me was telling me that I was not being true to myself.
In 2015, I found myself in a very good job position, working at a multinational design corporation, but I was feeling completely empty inside. I felt it was time to devote myself to what always had moved me, so I made a decision: I quit my job and started down the path that I always wanted to take—the arts.
At the beginning of 2016, I renovated my father’s old workshop and turned it into my studio.

Everything started to make sense after that; I now feel at peace with myself even though there’s a new challenge every day.
I started my dream of making sculptures with materials like marble or wood that I recovered from old warehouses, I tried to find beauty in discarded pieces, as a metaphor. I have always loved drawing, once having this larger space I felt like starting a bigger series of paintings on canvas.

Marta: I started learning piano by myself at the age of 9, when I a toy piano keyboard came to me (supposedly it was a present to Carla, but she never played it), and I remember I already started to create my own songs. When I was 15 I started to compose more consciously and when I was 21 I decided to pursue the Bachelor on Composition and be professional trained as a composer.

Before focusing full time on music, I studied the Bachelor on Audiovisual Communication, but when I had only one year left to graduate, I felt I wanted to totally focus on my music career and I quitted university. It was one of the most important and liberating decisions I’ve ever taken, and I think it was on that point when my career as a composer actually started.

N: When did you first collaborate on a project together?

C & M: Our first residency together was in San Francisco (summer 2017). It was onboard of the SS Vallejo, a houseboat that since the late 1940s has been a meeting place for artists and intellectuals, such as Jack Kerouac, Maya Angelou, Mark Tobey, Robert Matta, Ruth Asawa, etc… It was the first time we worked together developing a project fusing Music and Mobile Sculptures.

N: At what moment in your artistic process do you decide that a piece is finished?

C: Sometimes I like to let the pieces rest somewhere in the studio for a long time, and then one day work on them again. There are times that pieces that at first didn’t make me feel anything, suddenly I find a captivating beauty on them. But for me a piece is finished when it maintains a part of naturalness, of accidental, of irregularity but at the same time you can appreciate a work of composition behind. The balance between the casual and the planned, the break and the polished.

M: What I like to think is that rather than “composing a piece” I “discover it”. I have this feeling that the piece already exists ‘somewhere else’ and by working on it, I discover it. Then it comes a point where I feel that all the parts make sense and work well together. Still, there’s always something you could keep working on, but it’s very important to know when to stop and keep the freshness of it. At the end, it’s just one decision more of the process.

Also, music is somehow always alive and in transformation. Once you compose it and fix it on a paper, it will still slightly change every time it’s performed, you won’t play it twice exactly the same. And finally, what I also like to think is that a piece is not totally finished until someone listens to it and somehow makes it complete.

N: Carla, your work seems to involve an array of different artistic techniques. Which stage of your process feels more close to your artistic core?

C: What I enjoy the most is to learn, to touch materials, to discover new materials, to get fascinated about a black wood that comes from Africa or an Onyx stone that looks like a painting. I try not to stay in the techniques that already work for me but, within my style, try to look for other forms of expression, always using natural materials.

N: Marta, where do you find the inspiration to compose?

M: I find inspiration in many different ways. I believe that “inspiration” is the sudden impulse to create something or reveals you a clear idea on your mind. After that first impulse, inspiration is not enough, you have to put the work and effort into it, you have to develop it and make it real. Then inspiration comes again from the work itself, the more you focus on it and invest time on it, the more inspiration you have.

My desire to create – that first impulse – a lot of times come from another art form, example after watching an art exhibition or dance performance that really touched me, or from a personal happening, something I’ve seen, some memory that came to my mind…
I would say that inspiration is something you have to consciously keep feeding and take care of.

N: How have the city of Florence and Numeroventi inspired your creativity? What did your residency end up meaning to you?

C & M: Working together in the amazing space of Numeroventi and being in the beautiful city of Florence was like a dream for us.
The city really impacted our creative process. We based our project on the sculpture Il ratto di Polissena, that captivated us one early morning walking through the Piazza della Signoria. So, we wouldn’t have ended up creating this exact project in another city, and that feeling is very unique.

For us, Numeroventi has represented the confirmation of the importance of dedicating some time per year to work on more personal and experimental projects, leaving our environment and intensively work together to obtain new and different results.

N: Is there another artistic field you would be interested in exploring? If so, how would you incorporate it into your current work?

C: Architecture and interior design fascinates me, for me it is like making sculptures on a large scale. In my opinion, the feeling of walking through certain constructions is as powerful as what art can make you feel. That is why I love making sculptures considering the space in which they are going to be located, making them dialogue with the existing materials, the light, the dimensions…

M: Dance fascinates me. I am amazed by the movement, the rhythm and the musicality of the body. Music and Dance actually have a lot in common and I sometimes imagine my music visualized with dance and it helps me a lot during the creative process. Also, I usually work together with dancers and I love the connection between these two disciplines.

N: What excites you most about your upcoming projects?

C & M: What excites us the most is all the possibilities that we can create together, and we can’t even imagine right now. The “unknown” is what keep us going.The only thing we know for certain is that we are going to continue fusing Music and Sculpture to make them work as a whole sensorial experience. We found out that art residencies are the best space to develop this field, so we made a promise: we are going to make an art residency every year to keep this project alive.

Photo: Marina Denisova