Lili Reynaud-Dewar’s first solo show at Galerie Emanuel Layr, Live Through That ? ! is the first of a series of shows similarly titled. All the works in the show, ranging from sculptures, videos, sound pieces and performance documentation are also named Live Through That ? ! no matter their differences (and similarities). Indeed this is Reynaud-Dewar’s habit to name different works and shows with the exact same sentence for a certain period of time.
In 2013, she titled all her exhibitions and works « I Am Intact and I Don’t Care », after a verse my Arthur Rimbaud in the poem Bad Blood. In 2014 it will be « Live Through That ? ! » after a text by american poet Eileen Myles which describes the activity of flossing as a kind of survival technique that allows the writer to think about life, death and the politics of the body.
A video opens the exhibition. It shows a black suited man carrying a mirror and walking through the snow-covered woods, his hands covered with black make-up. At times he stops to floss his teeth. Accentuated by progressive Techno music, the video increases its intensity by way of repetitive elements, both in the music and in the flossing scenes. Here we are facing some form of repetition of a daily mundane activity, but somehow at odds with normality.
In the second room, is a series of male suits pressed between glass, brutally fixed with duct tape and onto which are fixed photographs of dental anatomy. The sculptures show the inner and outer from human bodies. Without being able to characterize the person behind the glass, the suits function as stylized bureaucratic men without any personal character. Their slapstick and ridiculous poses seem to awkwardly mimic – or at least respond to – the agility of the artist’s dance performance, shown on a hanging screen in the middle of the room where these glass sculptures lean. In this video, Reynaud-Dewar naked, her body painted grey, and her hair dyed grey, impersonates the figure of Josephine Baker. She repeats the iconic’s dancer’s choreographies in the Logan Centre of Chicago, an art space where she just participated to a group show this winter. This video is part of a longer series, initiated in 2011, which serves both as documenting the artist’s circulation and life, as some sort of video journal, (she dances in most of the institutions where she gets to work or do an exhibition) but also the various exhibitions and typologies of art spaces she encounters (as well as -once again- their similarities) The artist once called this a form of “fidgeting and intimate institutional critique”…
In the final room, the “garage” named after its monumental metal door and functional beams, are five new sound-sculptures in the shape of miniature beds. Every single sculpture consists of a little bedframe, mattress and sheets, in which a speaker is incorporated. Again, this is a form of repetition (and degradation, the artist insists) since the miniature beds are reminiscent of Reynaud-Dewar’s previous sculptures of ink fountain beds, which she dedicated “to writers to make use of their own life in their work”. The sound consist of french writers Guillaume Dustan and Marguerite Duras devising mundane things such as their personal shopping lists and their maintenance of their homes. Here again, the mundane is at stake, but not necessarily meaning the normal. The music, composed by Nicolas Murer A.K.A Macon (just as in the first video on view), a collaborator of the artist, reinforces the feeling of repetition and exhaustion. Each speaker can be perceived on its own as much as the spectator gets closer to each little bed, but the work is also meant to be perceived as a whole, with voices, music and silences contradicting and covering each other. Which is somehow how one could perceive Reynaud-Dewar’s work in general : an assemblage of repetitions, stutters and contradictions.
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