Morgane Tschiember — Polystyrene, Shibari & Co.

Exhibition

Ceramic

Morgane Tschiember
Polystyrene, Shibari & Co.

Past: December 13, 2013 → February 1, 2014

Polystyrene, Shibari & Co. brings together new pieces by Morgane Tschiember, all of them ceramics. They are the result of a recent sojourn in Italy, where the Nuove group gives artists in residence access to the historical and technical expertise of local companies and the materials and age-old traditions of Nove, a small town in the Veneto which has specialised in ceramics since the 17th century.

If the series of works titled Polystyrene uses the eponymous and highly inflammable contemporary material in minimalist works that invert the relation between full and empty — not least because polystyrene is 98% air — the Shibari series uses more traditional or even archaic materials, but treated by the artist in a very distinctive way. For, as the Japanese word of their title indicates, but only to those aware that it means “to bind,” these pieces involve tying. After spinning but before firing some of these clay pieces, Tschiember literally bound them. This strange “kneading”, in which the pottery is “caged” in various kinds of rope produced surface burns and contortions, invaginations and other deformities in this exclusive material, clay, which is considered the great prima materia.

In doing this, Tschiember was being iconoclastic in at least three different ways. With regard to traditional ceramics, first of all, whether functional or luxurious. But also with regard to a Japanese ritual and martial art of bondage which was originally military but has recently developed into an erotic art: kinbaku. And, finally, with regard to the Jomon period in Japan (10,000–300 BCE), known not only for its cord-impression pottery, but also as marking the end of the so-called Palaeolithic pre-ceramic period.

Polystyrene, Shibari & Co. derives from a consummate art of ellipsis that is at once historical and geographical, somatic and erotic, plastic and symbolic. With the materials at hand, Tschiember is proceeding very much in the manner of Alain Resnais in his short film Le Chant du styrène (1958), which, in a little less than fifteen minutes, goes through all the phases of production of a plastic bowl, going back from the effect (the result) to the cause (the raw material), but also conflates classical poetry and avant-garde literature: “I had the vague sense that there was a relation between the alexandrine and Cinemascope.” This was confirmed by Raymond Queneau, who was asked to write the text for the film, notably in these verses (spoken in voice-over by Pierre Dux), which point to an unwitting but significant family resemblance between some of Tschiember’s ellipses and the audiovisual leaps made by the filmmaker and writer:

“That’s when our polystyrene was born. Polymer product of the simplest styrene. Polymerization: this word, as everyone knows, Means the achievement of a highly complex Molecular weight. And in an autoclave, An elementary, concave-bellied machine Molecules clinging and merging into Beads were formed. Yes, but — before? Styrene was just a colourless liquid Somewhat explosive, not odourless.”

Raymond Queneau

The works by Morgane Tschiember presented in this exhibition were produced with the support of Nuove, Residency and the Municipal School of Fine Arts of Gennevilliers — Galerie Edouard-Manet.

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