September 6 – 27 October, 2018
10 rue ramponeau
Photo credit: Aurélien Mole
In Metamorphoses by Ovide, shapes, bodies, and things become confused through transformation. Either punishment or strategy, it is the symbol of a world where boundaries between subject and object, human and non-human, are unstable and porous. The body is the interpretation key of human condition, and its multiple metamorphoses are symbols questioning the permanence of gender, conditions of subjectivity, sexuality and violence.
This text was an endless inspiration for classical artists and is still peculiarly relevant. Baring fragmented iden- tities and materialities, modifiable, disguised, almost interchangeable, these bodies reflect on the question of gender, foreshadowing plastic surgery and body transformation technologies and providing prolific mythological narratives – open to interpretations – to queer theories.
Over his poems, Ovide tells the story of the nymph Daphne, who is turned into a laurel to escape rape; of Jupiter the god becomes a bull to seduce Europe; and writes how the excess of self-love leads the young hunter Narcisse to be transformed into a flower. While those creatures’ shape varies from human to thing, their subjec- tivity remains, questioning the very basis of a political, social and symbolic system built on the absolute separa- tion between the natural world and human society.
The destabilization and transgression of the norms governing the theatre of humanity, structured around patriarchy, European domination, and the all-power of “Man” over nature, is the object study and the creative driving force of the artists included in the exhibition. Just like Ovide, they draw the contours of a world that is multiple and fragmented. They question the absolute physicality of the body, its condition in space as well as time, and the constraints that ensnare them. These artists transgress the rules of the form and those of the spirit to create extravagant, joyous or worried chimeras. In looking carefully, one can feel the swaying of a life of their own, beyond the boundaries set by their frames.