press release

For her first exhibition in France, Sarah EMERSON has created a series of painting featuring wild animals – wolves, deers, a fox, a snake –in their natural habitat. In a climate of sometimes autumnal, sometimes wintry tones, scenes of violence – scenes of wolves hunting, or fighting over a piece of meat – alternate with moments of calm, where omnipresent death continues to prowl.

Her painting technique and use of colour evoke the American Pop art tradition and seem in opposition to the natural subjects represented. The kaleidoscopic effect of the applications of contrasting colours makes the figurative scenes lean towards abstraction. Tightly focused, these scenes melt into their background. The animal world appears here in all its ferocity as in all its vulnerability, intimately linked to its environment. Revealing a cruel and majestic nature, the works of Sarah EMERSON come to establish a sentiment both disturbing and dreamy.

Sarah EMERSON was born a Port Huron (USA). She lives and works in New York. She has exhibited widely including at White Columns (New York), Creative Alliance (Baltimore) and London House (London).

In her first exhibition in France, Vidya GASTALDON presents the installation Paysage – Rhizome – Œufs (Landscape – Rhizome – Eggs) consisting of thirty 'eggs', different sized wire structures, rhizome like, covered with knitted and sewn wool with different colours. Inspired by microbiology, the structure of each 'egg' consists of a network of links creating a form that is both geometric and organic, evoking the architecture of Buckminster FULLER. These entities evolve between the animal and the vegetable, or more so they express the dream of a hybridisation of these two kingdoms, reaching for the fullness of the kingdom of life. These abstract beings lie on the floor to form 'families', according to affinities recognised by the artist. In this way the works constitute a landscape that is both psychic – a concentration of mental images, and sensual – linked to the visual and tactile qualities of the forms and materials.

Being both a return towards the interior and a projection beyond the self, this strange and poetic universe is marked by the nostalgia for ecological and social utopias of the 1970s. This nostalgia can also be found in the series of drawings lying somewhere between Primitivism and Futurism that are also part of the exhibition, or in the video Bright Vader, an enlightened and mythical animated version of the evil Darth Vader from Star Wars.

Vidya GASTALDON was born in 1974 in Besançon. She lives and works in Geneva and has exhibited widely, including at the Centre Culturel Suisse (Paris), the Centre d'art contemporain (Geneva), Centre National de la Photographie (Paris) and the CAPC (Bordeaux).

Maria MARSHALL works on a body of large-scale video projections, renewing links with the psychological dimensions of cinema. The artist plunges us into a world of childhood, this being a pretext to evoke the anxieties of adults, also onto to her own anxieties at being a mother. Maria MARSHALL makes her own children the protagonists of these works, as charming putti bearing all the attributes of innocence. Nevertheless the children are depicted in scenes of danger, in an anguishing context or confronted with adult responsibilities. Anxiety, even discomfort develops when the viewer is faced with the impossibility of intervening on behalf of these children whose physical or psychic integrity is threatened.

The images are strongly aestheticised with a most particular attention to light and the rendering of colour, and the way of suggesting danger in an extremely seductive way. The power of these works resides in the fragile balance between fascination linked with the visual seduction of the images and the unease provoked by a feeling of underlying violence. Maria MARSHALL's mastering of cinematographic techniques, the great rigour of her direction and the repetitive aspect of projections give these brief narratives a truely hypnotic dimension.

In this show Maria MARSHALL presents three works: in Cyclops (2002, diptych 35 mm film, colour and surround sound) a screen shows a child standing in a room, filmed in an oscillatory manner by a Cyclops digital camera. The camera plays the role of interrogator and its movements are programmed to correspond to the idea associated with words such as 'love', 'hate', 'tenderness' or 'boredom'. On the second screen programed lighting effects – strobe, spotlight, red light etc – lighten the body of the artist and interrogate her about the same concepts. The sound of the movie, a powerful blast, is the actual one of the camera.

Multiplying references to the history of art – notably in the film's carefully accessorised composition, reminding Jacopo POTORMO's Pietà –, Pinocchio (2003, film 35 mm, colour and sound) evokes the hard position of a woman between desire for maternity and the will for emancipation. Maria MARSHALL, seated facing the camera in a caravan, speaks, with much maternal love and daily life details, about the baby she holds on her knees, who is in fact a doll. In a single sequence during which the candles burn out in reverse, Maria MARSHALL repeats three times her monologue on the role and the responsibility of a woman and a mother, and of the difficult conciliation of the two roles. The third time, one of the doll's legs starts moving.

10,000 Frames (2004, Super 8 film transferred to mini DV, colour and sound) is the artist's filmed journal of her trip to Disney World, Florida in the company of her two children; 6 days, 12 hours of filming each day, hence 10,000 images projected at an accelerated speed in 6 minutes and 40 seconds, becomes like a comical and hallucinatory trip to the land of Mickey.

Finally, Maria MARSHALL presents a perfume edition Sean (2002-2004, limited edition of 50, each signed and numbered by the artist), developed in collaboration with the Quest International Laboratories and presented in a bottle and packaging specially designed by the artist. Created as an extension to the film Playground – projected in in 2002 at the Palais de Tokyo (Paris) with the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations –, the green and woody notes of the perfume evoke the adolescent in the film. Maria MARSHALL will also be presenting four photographic works from Playground.

Maria MARSHALL was born in Bombay in 1966. She lives and works in London. She has exhibited at Palais de Tokyo (Paris), the Herzliya Museum (Israel), the Printemps de Cahors (France), the Goteborgs Konsthall (Sweden) and the Freiburger Kunstverein (Swisserland).

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Sarah Emerson / Vidya Gastaldon / Maria Marshall