Toward the end of Claire Denis’s Beau Travail is a scene depicting legionaries stretching out after having undertaken military drills. Slowly, from a kneeling position, they simultaneously recline until their torsos are horizontal to the floor. Bent backwards from their knees, their stretched bodies, crooked looking legs, and flailed arms dissolve the rigidity of the grid in which they were once situated.
Denis’s camera pans over the bodies.
As a viewer, although we know these soldiers or actors are alive, breathing, stretching – they appear as if dead, as if mowed down with bullets. I am struck by how they are at once both dead and alive. While Denis’ perceptual play relies on cinematic duration, my sculptural enquiry seeks to elicit from material a combination of contradictory states.
Sculpture for me, is when you’re engaging with materials and the materials are telling you what to do. When bending a piece of metal, the creases created resemble leather or fabric – through the manipulation of material I am able to find one extreme within another. This transformation of states is the material conversation that informs my work. It’s a two-way process – rather than the artist dictating to the matter its final outcome, the matter interrupts and enters into ‘dialogue’.