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Sunday, 28 December 2008


The idea of this research came with different things happening : finding out about Rebecca's passion for fashion and crazy dressing up and the sense of sexual freedom/discovery that comes with it, loving Phil Sayers's work "Changing Places" seen in Leeds (, starting to think a lot about feminism and what it means now days and trying to make my mind about all that ... in order to know better what it means for me (and in the art world/contemporary world), as a female artist, to show myself in my artwork ... Along all this came the subject I choose for an essay about 3 pieces of work from 3 different artists : Jenny Saville, Vanessa Beecroft and Pipilotti Rist.

I really want to know more about what interests Rebecca in the fashion world.

I first had that old-fashion feminist view about women posing for advertising and this included fashion magazines : that these women and advertisements were just using them as objects/sexual objects, as usually ... But I think that fashion magazines are mainly for women so there must be more than that simplistic view ... I also remember reading a French writer saying that if women spend so much time worrying about their appearance and looking for the right clothes and accessories, they are wrong to think that they're doing it for men because men (in general ... not ALL of them) don't really pay attention to details but rather look at the overall impression (this is a psychological difference). So she was saying that we (women) are the ones we dress for ... and I think this is very much true : most of the time, compliments about details we have worked at come from women rather than men ... Would that mean that all women have homosexual tendencies ?
Now, starting to question Rebecca and looking at how these images are built, I am getting another understanding of the whole thing and I know I would learn a lot by making such a kind of images myself. What would come out of the fact that we are not models and don't have 20 people (for clothes, make up, lights, photo ...) working at the making of the images ?
What kind of images can we produce by getting inspiration from fashion magazines ?
Shall we really stick to this idea of fashion or are we going to produce our own "ideal" images of women posing for a camera in "nice clothes" (or crazy clothes) ?

There is also this idea I came accross and which is new to me : that sexuality (understood in a broad sense) cannot be defined as simply as before, partly because of homosexual people having their say (in theorical research, for example, which came along with all the different feminist movements) and just because of how things are, nowdays. The boundaries are being blurred ... and this goes in the same direction than my previous question : "Do all women have homosexual tendencies because they enjoy looking at each others appearances ?".
I am interested to see what would come out in the making of "fashion" images made by women.

One main key or personal mystery resides for me in my self-portraits with mirrors. There is something there that I need to explore and using other models than myself may be a good way to find out ...
What interests me in the building of images would be : the body language, the relation between the model and the camera/photographer ... something of the psychological side of it. I would not go for the direct sexual allusions but rather for an eroticly-crafted composition.

It's quite interesting to note than when Vanessa Beecroft directs her performances, she's got a purist idea of an ideal image for the women : she talks about icons ... but the models never appear the way she wants .. something of the "life", of the flesh, comes out and "spoils" the perfection... certainly because they are moving and alive models and it is a performance, not a fashion shot. It is "live".

VB 55
Vanessa Beecroft

Jenny Saville directly denounces the pressure that this same perfection puts on women. In a sense, I think that her work doesn't go as far as Vanessa Beecroft's or Pipilotti Rist's : we know very well how much pressure is put on us (women) for being that ideal body/image. We are the ones going on dieting and always complaining about being fat ... we are the ones looking at fashion magazines ... We are caught in it and we are aware of it. So Jenny Saville, for me, doesn't go very far in that work. She doesn't disturb me as much as Vanessa Beecroft.

Jenny Saville

Pipilotti Rist's video installations are my favourite ... this is more my idea of the ideal woman : she knows how to "look good" with no ostentation while at the same time keeping her freedom and distance from male gaze. She plays perfectly with the visual pleasure.

I'm quite aware that she already looks good herself but I believe that any woman who knows herself and her body well can always make herself "look good". I had this said to me from a man : that the make-up, accessories and all the rest shouldn't be given to women because they already look beautiful but it should be given to men who are a bit rough and hairy with not very much choice in their clothes ... :)

Pipilotti Rist
"Sip my ocean"

but "Pickelporno is very good too :



I've chosen some of the most recent ones ...
It's funny how they look completely different to me, now that I have started to work at this "fashion magazines" project ! Now I can see some kind of style in them ... it is very difficult to step out of your own work, especially this one which is about self-portrait. Most of these images have never been shown, I have kept taking them for years but still don't know what they really are. In the present project, they can be samples of the styles, atmospheres, poses,colours, introspective states that I like or that are my own style.
I think houses can be very good settings for shots ...

I think that these images reflect very much my way of working : they are very spontaneous, quickly made and pretty rough and natural. I took them because the light or the colours or my mood inspired me at that moment ... but they are very consciously taken as I have most of the time the full control over my image with the mirror reflection. So the pose is "constructed".

Another best one, for other reasons (from Rebecca's choices)

I find this one completely crazy. I think it is a perfect example of nowdays advertisings where you get completely lost in the meanings : they've added so many layers of references and levels of understanding that nobody can get it anymore .... Proper contemporary art !:)
I just love the clothes and how the model looks dumb, stoned or whatever : as if she's some kind of spirit of the tree that has just fallen out of it ...
And the close up bubbles are crazy too like made by a drunk person : they just don't make sense because they are not focusing on what they should !
So I love this one too ...

Playing with the camera / the viewer (from Rebecca's choices)

This style (how theey act) is far to be my favourite, unless pushed to its limits and turned into derision or caricature ...

My personaly favourite style (from Rebecca's choices)

I love the unusual settings and the fact that there are other people around. The colours are subtle and well-balanced (the scanning has lost it here, sorry). She is posing posing but still looking very natural, close to herself. She is not "over beautiful" but still very sensual. There is such an harmony between her clothes/their colour and the surroundings.
I just love those shootings ....

My favourite over all ... because of the multiple frames, the round shape and the fact that she is photographed from behind the glass and also looks like she's lost in her thoughts ....

Friday, 26 December 2008



"Vogue Divine"

"Vogue Divine : a collaboration with poet Philip Davenport, images were produced in response to 7 of his Vogue Divine poems, adopting the style and visual syntax of advertising and fashion magazines.They were produced in two formats - AO size, bill-posted around Manchester for the Poetry Festival, and also published as an A6 postcard set."

"Changing Places"



Sunday, 19 October 2008

Jim Campbell


Shadow (For Heisenberg), 1993-94Custom electronics, video camera, glass cube with LCD material, statue

Shadow (for Heisenberg) is an interactive installation that involves the viewer's desire to see an object contained within a glass cube. If the viewer moves towards the object the image of the object fades from view and is replaced by the shadow of the object. This work incorporates a new technology that allows a piece of glass to go from transparent to translucent. The work also incorporates a video camera on the ceiling. The image from the camera on the ceiling is manipulated and displayed on the wall behind the pedestal to make apparent the relationship between position and perception. This work is loosely based on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle from Quantum Physics which states that one can never observe an object in its purest form because the process of observation has an impact on the object. The more accurately one trys to observe or measure an object, the more that object will be affected by the observation.


Untitled (For Heisenberg), 1994-95
Eight ultrasonic sensors, salt, laser disc player, computer, custom electronics

At the end of a dark hallway is a bed-size platform with a life-size image of a couple projected onto a layer of salt. The couple's intimate embrace is in slow motion. As the viewer progresses toward the bed, the image zooms in closer and closer. When the viewer reaches the bed, the image is an abstract close-up of the two lovers. The viewer's progress along the hallway alters the scale in a continuous and gradual way. The image, panning up and down the bodies of the figures, responds to the viewer's left to right position in the hallway.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Low-tech - Pipilotti Rist Interview -

"A lot of people think that I work with more complicated machines than I do, when in fact I work in a very low-tech way that is much more interesting. For example, in the footage of the flying body parts, the hands and feet, people think this is computer animated. It's not true. I did it in my apartment near a window. I put black fabric over things, and wore black clothes (except for those areas of my body), and I lay down and moved my limbs around with the camera twisting in my hand. So it was just sunlight, black fabric, and a consumer camera. I didn't even use a studio light. Then on the computer, of course, I had to correct for different tones of blacks. I also work with surveillance cameras, the small ones. In the projected images here behind the orange sofa, for example, of a woman's reflection on a house, the camera sweeps across the outside of the house. It looks as if I had used a hundred thousand dollar machine. But it's just a long aluminum stick with a "thumb" attached to it, one of those mic rophones. With that I can get extremely dynamic movements if I work with a wide angle, but again it's very low tech. That's the production side. The other side is the installation. For me, it's very important that things looks simple. But the simpler it looks, the more work it is, like figuring out how to hang the projectors.(...)."

interview :;col1

video works :

Friday, 26 September 2008

Studio space

Back to Staffordshire University for my final bit of BA ... started 5 years ago !!!

Over the years, I've been more and more unconfortable with having a "studio space". It doesn't make sense to me to cut a room into small pieces. And also, more and more, I have got used to either work from home (which means : from my computer) or on site specific projects. I don't think I need a studio space anymore, not to "prepare" art works that would go somewhere else anyway. If I start to work somewhere, this place/space (and me in it) should be part of the work.

But yesterday I found a subterfuge : I went to "my space", I put my camcorder on tripod, stood in front of it and looked at myself in its tiny screen. I measured the space with my hands and managed to delimite what you could see if you were looking into the camcorder ... or what you could see if I had filmed this part of the space.

As you can see below, you miss quite a lot of the actual space if you look at it through the lense of my camera.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Du Zhenjun - Interactive video installations

Well, Chinese artists are obviously amazing : this is Du Zhenjun.. I saw his incredible solo exhibition (Human Zoo) of nearly 10 huge interactive pieces in my home town's great gallery Le Lieu Unique, Nantes  in 2005.
Once again, I'm very much interested in the technique and the fact that it is an interactive work.
Here is a sample :

His website :

Light and darkness

The other day in Manchester I saw this installation of Tsang Kin-Wah at the Chinese Arts Center :

More than the actual content, I just LOVED the simplicity and delicateness of the technique used : "cold transparent laminating film on walls and ceiling" ... in a dark room with some openings and different qualities of light coming out of these openings ... It is only by moving into the empty space that you would perceive the words which would have disappeared at your next step ... Perfection to me ...

I also liked the way the plastic paper was just shining in the dark ...

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

... following the last works ...

Music : "Stabat Mater"
With the participation of : Hilary, Susan and Emma - B arts -

Saturday, 5 July 2008

... A dream ...

The other night I dreamed that something quite magical was happening on my work desk ...

A drop of water had fallen on it and all of a sudden I could see all the movements I had just done before appearing on some kind of transparent sheet of paper, as if it was a screen. The movements were in slow motion and the whole thing looked very beautiful.

I want to try out different ways of displaying moving images. I want to play with projection and try it on different kinds of screens, at different distances. I want to play with light and shadows. I'd like the projection (projector and screen) to be part of the installation and see how the viewer could interact with it.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


"Diary", 2006

I photocopied the two first pages of each of my diaries written since I arrived in England. I left my hands on the photocopier window. I covered my writings with thick black marker and scanned the photocopies.
The result is a strange intimate reading experience where the handwritten words cannot be read but where you nearly touch the writer's hands, turning the pages along with her.

Following this work, I made a video piece "Dark Continent", shown at Burslem School of Art in April/May 2007 for the exhibiton "Artists fight against racism" curated by Jane Goetzee.

Accompanying text :
"The phrase "Dark Continent" first appeared as evocating Africa in a colonialist context. It was then used by Sigmund Freud to refer to women's sexuality and later discussed by feminist intellectuals, critizising the passive role associated with feminity. In their early revendication, feminists also tended to establish a parallel between the women liberation and the liberation of the Black people from oppression.
On Gilberto Gil's Brazilian music, the present video piece evocates this multilayered subject. In a humoristic and sensual manner, the dance also questions the duality between different types of languages : male and female, mother tongue and foreign language, verbal and non verbal communication.
This is a struggle and a longing for reconciliation, for the Other to be recognized as part of oneself."

work in progress

I have started to film and take pictures of moving people. "Veiled Messages" - June 2008 -

Music : Gilberto Gil - "Tata Engenho Novo"- album "O sol de oslo"

The photos used in this slide show were taken during a theatre workshop with B Arts people.
I just liked what was happening there. When I put the images together and added the music, it clearly appeared as a continuation of some previous works. Something to do with non-verbal communication, foreign language and translation. Movement, body, sensuality are also certainly some other key words ...

"A a a a a a a men" - June 2008 -

Music : Vivaldi - Stabat Mater -

This came out of a second session where I directed Susan, Hilary and Emma. I asked them to follow and "listen" to each other with great attention. My request was about the quality of this listening and I also wanted them to be as close as possible to each other, but without touching. For the rest, they could move as they wanted but I prefered them to move slowly.
I wanted to film the "space in between" them ... which I did. But the present video came as a surprise and the title "A a a a a men" came as a final touch. I see it as a humorous but also sensual and spiritual piece. The music chosen is very important to me : I love Vivaldi's Stabat Mater which is about Marie suffering for her son being tortured on the cross. It is about the limits or the extreems of compassion. It's about suffering and loss and the impossible complete union in human earthily love. But the choosen piece of music here is very energetic and happy ! And the title turns it all into derision. Serious and not serious. Deep and light at the same time. And about love. About women's love, whatever this may mean.