Soma (& liquid gear) is Jeanne Briand’s second solo show at the gallery. On this occasion, she presents a vision of a world made of cells, memories and emotions. With this new body of work ranging from video installation to textile, glass pieces and steel sculptures, the artist navigates through her childhood memories. Fluid(s) & mechanics constitute the DNA of this exhibition.
“To create this new body of work, I steered through my childhood memories. At night, while I was half asleep in the back seat of my mother’s car, lying down with my twin brother, I was discovering the world. I remember the light through the window, the landscape flashing to the rhythm of the street lamps, the rain and the wind entering the car through the gap of the door and intertwining over the surface of the seat, up to my forehead. In contact with the cold leather, the back of my head soaks up the vibrations of the engine and the world parades through the rear window. Our whole seat looks like a mega vessel, and the scent of mum behind the wheel wafts up to us. I use the memory of these rides as fuel to explore a fictional space, a space in which we are confronted to the complexity of our sensations, as an intrinsic element of the body, and to its impact on the experience of the world – and the environment.”
In the central installation of the show, “In the shell. Idk where we are heading to but refuel your soul, this is a long drive.”, two Kormi (“torso” in greek) plastrons made of glass drive towards what seems to be the future, in a reconstituted car filled with memories. The car, made of eroded fragments, seems to be floating. The artist voluntarily let the viewer fill the void left by the missing parts, gently reminding us of the fragile state of life. From the core metabolism of our body to the precarity of our existence, the exhibition stages the evocation of a time that is indefinable, universal and intimate, all at once.
In Jeanne Briand’s sculptures, the stone – primary material used for classical sculpture – is replaced with glass. The artist thwarts the conventional treatment of materials: here the glass plastrons look like petroleum or chewing gum. The mold used to create the Kormi plastrons was extracted from a window-like mannequin, undisputable materialization of the ideal of beauty. The Kormi is designed to send us once again to the delicate nature of being and our own imperfections, while also addressing our fascination with paragons. Jeanne Briand has been using the same bust mold to create her sculptures and installations since 2011 : “I found this broken mannequin alone in the street on a rainy day. The shop windows were filled with complete and beautiful mannequins. When I saw this one in a puddle, thrown in the street, I felt an undeniable affection for him and I picked him up.”
The glass busts are also present in the video installation entitled “DIVE (Direct Motion Towards & Maximum Depth, Ophelia)”. In the lower level of the gallery, cinema seats, skinned out of their original velvet fabric, invite the viewer to immerge in a fiction – in the style of Grand Theft Auto – in which we follow the course of a Kormi driven car. The video shows a ride through a nature in constant struggle with mankind. From the chaotic spontaneity of the wilderness to virtual representations of its experience, the film confronts the viewers with opposite dynamics. We move from reality to motion design, presence to absence, constructed to deconstructed, desperately searching for clues and meanings.
This notion of “absent presence” is developed throughout the exhibition, from the car installation to the glass busts and even in the racing outfit, which hang on the wall waiting for its owner. Jeanne Briand invites the viewers to fill the voids in this retro-futurist archeology, and in doing so she confronts them with their personal mythology. As humans, we are constantly in search for meaning. We exist between dualities, surface and substance, interior and exterior, past and present. We relentlessly challenge our abilities, enhance our performances, we perfect our mind and body to thrive or survive within our environment. We use science and technology to gain more control on life itself, but also to deflect the realization of our mortal condition. After all, Soma (& liquid gear) is a voyage, a voyage into the introspective discovery of our identity and the chaotic experience of being.