April in Paris is proud to present a selection new sculptures by Clémence de La Tour du Pin (*1986 Roanne, FR).
When reflecting on the work of Clémence de La Tour du Pin, I’m drawn to speak of an agency that is cloaked, obscured or hinged. Whether through installations, olfactory media or object assemblage, the idea of infestation is a concept that is maneuvered in her work through a cluster of less than usual associations.
A dilapidated family home, the varied complexities of estrangement and chronic illness, the consideration of skin –it is in the unveiling of these hermetic, strangely familiar, and obfuscated spaces where La Tour du Pin renders them sculpture.
The artist’s foray into umbrella culture might appear as an unusual gambit, but her interest is of a different order. The umbrella is a unique entity that is not owned, but in a constant state of flux. Seamlessly integrated into our everyday lives, umbrellas switch hands, owners, and contexts. Here, the artist has resuscitated and reworked cast-off umbrellas collected in the countryside near Roanne, France.
These found objects originally betasseled in silk or cotton clad, are weathered and stained; infested by mold and parasites. By keeping these details intact, and only making slight modifications (such as adding gold on protruding metal ribs, silk fibers to surfaces, or repurposed tassels and bows as adornments) the artist draws attention to its vulnerability. Highlighting the transformative nature of the transitory object, the work conjures ideas of environment, architecture, body, temporality and personhood simultaneously.
France has a long industrial history related to textile production in the Auvergne-Rhône Alpes region. The boom in the textile industry in Roanne was born from the proximity of the Lyonnais silk workers. Therefore, the worth of an umbrella, and its role in signaling social status, is not coincidental. This resonates in the three small scale silk umbrellas, possibly 19th century and made for children, aligned horizontally on the wall in the exhibition space that faces the outdoors. Their presence is evocative, due to their delicate silk skin in decay.
Clémence de La Tour du Pin | Untitled | 2022
umbrella, tape | 90 x 80 x 30 cm
Echoing voids or hauntings, the artist has moderately slit their fiber surfaces. In so doing, she exposes the umbrella’s hollowness, underscoring ideas of apparition, protection, shielding, and exposure. This work foregrounds the screaming presence of that which appears not to be present, in sync with cultural theorist Avery Gordon’s notion of past or haunting social forces that control present life.
Clémence de La Tour du Pin | Untitled | 2022 | umbrella, gold 22c | 98 x 91 x 40 cm
La Tour du Pin has also created a new series of elongated horizontal boxes, resembling the object’s shape when unfurled and open. Using parchment textures on the exterior, the beige surfaces are like scaly epidermis, almost animal-like.
Within, they contain abstract collages from banal scenes in quotidian life— seats from trains, or found chairs on streets—reinforcing the notion of intimacy in the public sphere. The dialectic between inside/outside and interiority/exteriority is a consideration furthered by the object’s placement in a domestic setting.
By taking everyday usage La Tour du Pin grants this accessory conceptual rigor: a certain atmosphere or mood points to unknown forces or past lives resisting simple hermeneutic interpretation.
Text by Jennifer Teets, Paris, December 2022