Sunshades for an expanded field | Clémence de La Tour du Pin

Viewing Room

Among the works presented by Clémence de La Tour du Pin on the occasion of her solo show at April in Paris, we find ‘Sunshades for an expanded field’: 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.

In order to better understand this work, it is important to mention the symbolic and economic value that the object of umbrella represents in France, a country with 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.

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.

Their presence is evocative, due to their delicate silk skin in decay. 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.

Sunshades for an expanded field | Clémence de La Tour du Pin | April in Paris | 2022 | Credits: Fabian Landewee

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.
Highlighting the transformative nature of the transitory object, the work conjures ideas of environment, architecture, body, temporality and personhood simultaneously.

Clémence de La Tour du Pin | Sunshades for an expanded field | 2022 | three umbrellas, thread, button | 50 x 50 x 21 cm