The attraction to a mirror is variable; it refers to our degree of narcissism, voyeurism, or simply the fascination that all optical effects can produce – such as reflections, but also transparency and diffraction.
In the exhibition by Jean-Charles de Quillacq at art3, mirrors are placed on the wall along skirting boards, too low for a visitor’s face to be reflected in them. A checkers board in white and black tiles extends it and structures the layout of the rooms.
The first view is from a high angle. The space, three steps below, evokes a dried up pool. Various casts of the lower part of a body, objects, and assemblages arranged on the floor are reflected there, behind a dirty aquarium, or juxtaposed. There is an unusual correspondence between height and volumetry.
The surfaces are varnished, lacquered, or glass-walled, devoid of pores, and on these surfaces resins, textile, silicone, creams, juices, fluids, and spores are attached or coiled. Pipes are sliced, obstructed, coated, pinched, and orifices are enlarged; fluids (juice, urine, synthetic sweat, moisturiser, etc.) are between states, drying out, producing emanations or substrata on inert surfaces.
Descend into this pool. Discover a tube against a step, covered with a silicone cap the colour of fecal matter. Homemade brioches, monstruous yeast, stuffed into the pre-existing niche in the ceiling. Decipher the lewd subtitles of a tiny video screening. Solitary, cold, rigid, and white handfuls, moulded to the shape of the palm of a hand.
A second aquarium contains an artificial green liquid, although I’m told that it is cucumber juice. I think of dimensions. Plant phalluses. The exhibition is nearly over, the smell has disappeared.
Some brands operate on our collective memory of strange associations, “phantom” sensations, in the sense of a phantom limb, when itchiness persists post-amputation.
The caramel of a Mars bar on your palette, the freshness of the Aquafresh tricolour toothpaste as you spit out, the hint of YOP licked off the upper lip, the tickle of an Axe deodorant… Interactions with the flesh, scents mixed with flesh, its fluids, the caress of flesh, the taste of flesh.
The Ice Truck Killer2
We discover here and there, a Nike shoe on a sports sock, a white pair of tights, a bottle of Liptonic, popular brands with countless anonymous users, and yet here, despite the hidden faces, ellipses, or absences, rigid and livid figures, a portrait appears to be at work.
A dismembered body has no will of its own; it becomes an object, more than a subject, like the son devoured by Saturn in Goya’s fresco. Industrial jerrycans evoke torsos with an orifice, from which have spurted forth substances that contaminate, absorb, and replace the objects that they (re)produce like body snatchers.3
The body parts appear male, but play on their ambiguity. The casts of the three members, two legs clenched tight, dissimulating their phallus, are titled Alexa: the diminutive amputates a name from its final syllables, which often determine the gender. The hips of a sawn-off asexual model mates with a jerrycan. In the video excerpt, captured by the artist, on the website Boyself.com, the sexual, androgynous, and prostrate worker exposes his hairless back, long hair, narrow hips, and buttocks, with a dildo sticking out of his anus. But he hides his face and does not show his genitals.
The title of the exhibition Ma Sis T’aime reproductive4 [literally “My Sis Loves You Reproductive” where Sis T’aime sounds like “system” in French] evokes Duchampian puns: L.H.O.O.Q. (1919) of the moustache-clad Mona Lisa or Rrose Sélavy (1920), in which the artist cross-dresses.
A full-length, headless, composite, non-gendered portrait emerges implicitly from recurring concerns in both the artworks and their titles, of a physical and social order, about gender and sex. Amputating, arranging, aligning pieces on a surface streaked with lines.
Ma sis t’aime reproductive
- Perfume is the title of the novel by German writer Patrick Süskind, published in 1985. The protagonist assassinates his victims to extract fluids and fragrances from their bodies. The action begins in Paris, then develops in the south of France.
- The Ice Truck Killer is a fictional character in the series Dexter. He dismembers his victims, emptying them of their blood and notably varnishing their fingernails.
- Body Snatcher is the first novel of American author Jack Finney, adapted three times into a film. Plant spores absorb humans during their sleep, replacing them by assuming their appearance.
- Ma system reproductive [My Reproductive System], the title of the exhibition by Jean-Charles de Quillacq at Bétonsalon, Paris, 2019. My is a possessive of neutral gender in English.