Female Power, Earth’s Energy
My eyes had no prior propensity to dwell on Camille Juthier’s work. Actually, the fluorescent colours have always stripped me of my shades. They yell too loudly. With their bottlenecks all open, they seem ready to eat our retinas. So much so that at first glance, some of the artist’s works reject me. For good reason! This blue, too blue for us to be suspicious of it, is – among other things – that of one of the leaders of disgusting things that manufacturers are giving us all the time in hypermarkets. This blue is the same as the Axe® shower gel that Camille Juthier uses as a medium for her paintings. It is here the emblem of a virilist society, which fantasizes about white chicks, slender bodies, big tits and naked ass, running like animals unable to resist the charm of the so-called handsome kid with the magic Axe® – taking a look at the brand’s ads is enough to that’s enough to make you desperate. Humour, you may say….
This colour, devoid of a natural referent, is found in supermarkets and advertising. It is used to sell personal hygiene products, including menstruation, but also for household and food products. The Powerade®, also used as a medium by the artist, is the archetype here. This energy drink for athletes, with the ambiguous slogan: “Water is not enough.” and marketed since the 1980s by the Coca-Cola® company. Drinking it would considerably increase our performance capacities. This blue – with its multiple and contradictory uses – says a lot about the way we perceive our bodies. They are considered as the simple vehicles of our minds, capricious envelopes that are claimed to be thin, odourless, cellulite and hair-free. These despised bodies should at all costs be sanitized, silenced: screwing the Axis® under the armpits or drinking Powerade® would then induce a transcendence of this capricious piece of flesh with too loud impulses.
To this rigorous dualism, Camille Juthier prefers a resolutely more fluid approach. It thus leaves a very special place to chance, which becomes the architect of chimeric discoveries, giving rise to hybrid and protean creatures. With maceration, the artist brings together various objects – vegetable, mineral, as well as technological – and places them in silicone bags before letting them evolve freely. In these external placentas, corn silks, sim cards, and as many antinomic elements that coagulate, resorb or simply fade, cross each other. In his workshop, near a window, one of these Powerade® bottles was lying around, simulating a sim card. It seemed as if the rare earth that fills the chip was diffusing into the drink. The latter, which was slowly rotting, gave birth to a floating gelatin, a kind of alien mucus. This small object that contains our data, the one that is an extension of our memory, no longer responded to anything; it was floating there in turbid water.
If Camille Juthier rejects dualism, whether it opposes woman and man, body and mind, nature and culture, she does not promote an essential nature, frail and stripped of all artifacts, a nature that would have been placed under a bell. On the contrary, it celebrates hybridizations, the mesh of the world. Here, we are talking about the parts that come together as a whole to form organizations in constant evolution, strong in intelligence and in the ability to constantly reformulate themselves. By applying honeycombed tulle before the Axe® dries, the artist gives the Plexiglas an air of bionic skin ready to moult. Thus, his works are most of the time the fruits of mating of different elements, if not dissonant, and give the chemicals, which pretend to improve nature, characteristics specific to animality. No longer a question of a dry and oppressive hierarchy: dualism is thus dissected, turned to derision and invalidated.
Finally, Camille Juthier reveals the constitutive power of the elements and the benefits of the union of opposites. It represents a prosperous environment where technology and nature enjoy a virtuous complicity. Here, the antinomy is no longer a tare and the so-called weak are no longer despised. On the other hand, the artist gives back all his power to femininity, to the despised body and to nature.
Solo exhibition, Delightful falls, from November 5 to December 7, Budapest Galeria, Budapest.