At first glance, there is nothing ominous: it would even seem a bit familiar, in its pink fleece clothing, with a sweet look, a little bit like candy. Entitled Fluffy Flavours, Delphine Pouillé spreads out her thrums in the open space, these bodies whose name, found inside a book by Antonin Artaud, refers to the stump, the extremity, or even a ham hock. That is, we’re somewhere in between lollipop and living organism, something that is the slightest bit revolting in view of the drips of expansive foam that continues to ooze depending on the variations in temperature, and which embodies the independent life of the present organism. The artist herself says that the control of this temperamental material has not prevented unpredictable outgrowths in the creative process.
In the beginning, there was a drawing. The kind of drawing that originates in those sketches that we scribble distractedly in the margins to stave off boredom. This drawing was then filtered through the computer, within the restraints of software, as much as to keep it at a distance as to cut parts out of it, to make them proliferate according to the artist’s whim. Then the idea expanded and took off: it needed volume and material in order to seep into the spaces that were carelessly made available, taking over the architecture in a pernicious penetration. The organisms made living colonized the walls of the Graineterie of Houilles — France (2010), creeping into the beams and the smallest crack, as if to further disrupt the second possible meaning of thrum, or pier, an architectural term. But here the element is nothing like a support; it seems to appear to turn things upside down and to contradict the stability of the whole.
For that matter, this is not the artist’s first undertaking. From her first jaco, born in 2002, a sort of cushion created for the needs of her sofa, a whole bunch of objects appeared: all bright and cheerful, soft, full of holes, in order to better appropriate them, curl up in them, or slip into them. But even then the idea had unexpected developments and a group of bouées and cagoules emerged and bloomed between 2005 and 2008.
Wearable elements, they are as soft and seductive as they are awkward: they hinder walking and obstruct vision. The playful staging of these absurd objects could turn into a nightmare for someone careless enough to chance a visit to a certain happening – like the unfortunate one, during a particular all-night museum event (2009, MUDAM, Luxembourg), with shoulders tied up in a red bouée, a veritable octopus whose tentacles are equipped with monstrous cannonballs, so heavy to move that it must be done bit by bit in order to achieve a single step. Even when they bind together the bodies between them, these bodies are impeded in a circle all the more crazy as it is absurd. Bruegel’s blind chained together and scrambling towards the abyss are no more disconcerting. Is it humanity’s madness, the absurdity of existence that the artist is staging?
The surgical aspect of the latest interventions, freeing the thrum from its spandex skin, hung up in the air with a peg — the production of it all would willingly conjure up images of some skinned steer executed by a Rembrandt who had become crazy about science fiction. And yet the artist assures us that she, herself, has not. The existence of these absurd bodies, multiplying like some form of cancer, is all the more worrisome, beneath their delightful appearance. It’s a kind of existentialism disguised
in cotton candy.