Elodie Antoine

Elodie Antoine
May 30, 2015 - Jul 05, 2015
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Elodie Antoine makes use of flexible materials such as thread, fabric, wallpaper, wool carpet and felt. She also works with everyday items : chairs, frames, sinks but always taking them beyond their limits. She strives for taking complete possession of the space, placing objects in a way which seems as if they self-generated there. She uses textiles in order to create a universe made of organic and vegetable matter where all the items, with their peculiar shapes, seem to be in a state of progression. She explores the potential of materials by allowing them to multiply and outgrow in a way that is natural to them, but which she nonetheless cleverly controls. The proliferating and hybrid installations could be in line with artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Anette Messager, Eva Hesse, Dorothea Tanning or Matthew Barney without the aspects of morbidity associated with the latter’s work.

How about the bobbin lace depicting nuclear power stations, cranes or electricity pylons ? How do the domestic, feminine arts, historically practised as a minor art and the industrial, male universe, phallic and erected in public space ever meet ? Both are becoming obsolete, which in a certain way brings them together, as seen in the photography of Bernd and Hilda Becher, the inspiration for the artist’s lace work. That is not the point though. Elodie Antoine connects her work to male spaces by perveting female techniques away from their original ornamental and domestic roles. She merges feminity into masculinity and vice-versa. This can be seen in her lipstick, the shape of which was changed into a drill component.

Elodie Antoine plays with and develops the shape of certain objects, like the chairs turned into baroque and quirky seats ; their floral-patterned fabric being displayed vertically to create ridiculous rolls and folds. This allows us to violate the object that has become a body ; suggesting that its deformity is not limited to that stage and that it can continue to grow at its own leisure. The objects she designs are fundamentally anthropomorphic which implies an intimate relationship. Their organification often shows a sexual nature. More or less obviously phallic or vaginal shapes, an installation suggesting a back and forth movement (Rocking Chair), a long thread like a proboscis shooting out of a frame, fabrics hanging from the ceiling with provocative things sticking out (Installation B-Gallery), intertwined and entangled pieces (Series of blue shirts), Elodie Antoine’s world is sensual and sexed. Through fabric – material traditionally reserved to women – masculinity is approached in a way that disturbs universal standards of domination.

Notions of the interior, the exterior and movement are constants within Elodie’s work. This can explain the internal aspect of many of the works which sometimes take the form of white or red felt pipes, drainage systems resembling organs, or even felt items cut (dissected ?) by the artist which display internal spirals evoking the bloodstream. The domestic object is now alive and awakens our fears. Chairs, carpets, wallpaper, mouldings and frames evoke constantly mutating organisms, biologically unstable and brought to life by invisible fluxes. Some of them – like the chairs – are surrounded with small cells on the floor. Here it is the objects which are mutating, not the bodies, which enables them to question the future of the human body. Elodie Antoine’s work could therefore be seen within the context of "posthuman" issues ; the hybrid shapes bringing up the question of cloning. The items she produces, although not machines, seem to be endowed with a life of their own. But even if an aspect in her art is an understanding relationship with transformation – as well as a large dose of fantasy, inherited from the Surrealists who also used the technique of warping common objects – Elodie Antoine’s works never display a morbid nature. Constantly working with the principle of contradiction : if there are mutating cells, they will be covered in pink fabric, removing the spectacularly easy tendency seen in some artists’ work of using shock tactics. Elodie Antoine’s shapes, a micro-universe composed of vague molecules, call the future of mankind into question while maintaining a cheerful dialogue with the art space.

Elodie Antoine’s approach now tries to cope with the space she uses as a research laboratory. The installations she arranges emerge from the characteristics of the location, as if they were trying to fuse with it. This could be a work on a landscape, where the artist grafts fungus-shaped fabrics high up on trees, infecting the forest and living in harmony with nature. Taken over by mould, the objects do actually mutate and become themselves a favourable environement for fungus. The work of art evolves according to its own dynamics ; it invades the space like a parasite. Or maybe it is the opposite, the artist sometimes works on dematerialisation, on the virtual lack of objects, showing a completely emptied space where the only remaining features are straight or rosette-shaped mouldings on the ceiling. Searching the Void but not in a quest for immateriality as was the case with Klein but relying instead on the archetypes of 19th century bourgeois decorative arts, on objects that we do not notice (invisible, not immaterial) but which give the space a bourgeois hint. The ceiling is transformed into a vague area and the mouldings - typically inanimate items – try to trick us, as if they were only interested in their own reproduction.
Searching for the outpouring, the artist subtly catches and extends the outgrowth of what is to come but does not give in to the dramatic or use over proliferation for the sake of filling the exhibition space and modish method for artistic production.

One of the very first installations by Elodie Antoine was the seizure of a hostipal room full of beds ; she placed knitted intravenous drips according to stereotypes (pink clothes for children, jaquard pattern for men, etc.) and the last stitches of these constitued the tubes. The artist is inspired by the features of the material, like in the lace nuclear power stations where the smoke is made of the same threads. She makes the process of creation visible. The shapes of works and installations do not only result from the material, an element dear to Modernism but also from the exhibition space, i.e. a hospital, to which biographical elements are added. Elodie Antoine is pushing back the frontiers of art to reach reality. Her approach finds here its full expression of uniqueness ; she starts from a question and from a perfect command of the material and makes it strive towards the real and more precisely towards the shapes it carries. The real in question has as a subject the body and its future in every aspects : masculinity, feminity, inwardness, exteriority, deformation and formation, proliferation and expansion. Elodie Antoine’s work is about Life.

Nathalie Stefanov
Octobre 2009