Our first visit contribution from Sleek Magazine Berlin.
Meet Juliette Bonneviot…
She works from an apartment in Sonnenallee, but it would be more apt to consider the fibre-optic fabric of the internet as Juliette Bonneviot ’s studio – or at least the places where her ideas congregate and converge. Drifts through the plethora of images, information and exchange on offer mirror her own research process. Instead of using the internet as the site of the work, she embodies a hyperlink mentality, taking on the role of a search engine and gathering information together and re-representing it. Hers is a world built on acknowledging the mainstream interpretations of objects, and pushing them toward a networked dispersal of meaning. The language that she invokes is one of layered misinterpretation.
As a Paris-born artist living in Berlin, there are plenty of opportunities for that, a notion she focused on in her recent solo exhibition “Shanghai Gesture” at London’s Wilkinson Gallery. Akin to an exploded drawing of ideas and moments that each operate individually, yet also as parts of a whole, she began with the film “Rush Hour” and expanded outward, even appropriating the design scheme for the reimagined exhibition flyer. Adopting the attitude of a young Asian artist, she asked herself, “if I were young and Chinese what would I be making?” and took it from there. Her assembled cluster of extracted gestures included a piece of silk dipped in squid ink (both ancient and highly commercialised materials of the “orient”) blowing softly in the breeze naturally present in the gallery itself, and attached to a Structube-like display stand (a modernist affectation Bonneviot frequently returns to). On the stand also hung headphones on which muzak played, sourced by Bonneviot from internet libraries of taxonomic definitions of “Asian music”.
Her process of expansion in order to expose and decode runs as a thread throughout, as does her desire and willingness to make things by hand. Painting and making materials herself is an important part of her practice, as she remarks: “the guys – they order things, being a bit like a ‘boss’ in a company. I’m a little bit like a housewife painting all day and checking Facebook. People think I pick things randomly but actually I’m quite careful. I think I’m an object too,” she continues, “and if people are interested in certain objects then I want to scrutinise that object from the perspective of an object.”
It is the variety of mistranslations, misinterpretations and the conscious relinquishing of controlled meaning that drives Juliette Bonneviot. Everything is up for grabs and subject to de- and reconstruction, as she suggests: “by picking and remaking a piece I recode it. I set it free for someone to take it if they want… if people copy me I can’t complain. It’s part of the game.”
In her eyes, Russian clubbers (“pumping dancers”) wearing sportswear and making hand gestures as a social code are also fair game: she immortalises them in sculpture and prints, combining the actions with constructivist, Rodchenko-style compositions. Meanwhile, Chinese calligraphy is copied by the hand of the artist and transformed into a new script for misinterpretations.
Text by Susanna Davies-Crook
From Sleek 36 “The Head & Heart Issue”