Chloé Royer — Heels Over Head


Mixed media

Chloé Royer
Heels Over Head

Past: June 6 → July 20, 2024

Galerie loevenbruck chloe royer 16 1 original 1 grid Chloé Royer — Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris Avec Heels Over Head, première exposition de Chloé Royer à la galerie Loevenbruck, l’artiste offre une proposition radicale qui enchante par sa propension à faire se tenir en équilibre instincts poétiques et politiques.

Three years ago, Chloé Royer held her first solo exhibition. It took place in a room with dilapidated walls, a very high ceiling and uneven parquet flooring, where it was said that Karl Marx had once been a tenant. The exhibition, for which I had written a text, was born of an action that bound us together and sealed several years of friendship: shoe prototypes found in an old family shop and given to Chloé. She worked on them for several months, trying to work out what she could do with them. Faced with all this polystyrene, plastic and imitation leather, she opted for wood. It was the first time she had sculpted with it.

Since then, Chloé has worked in other media, modelling other forms, which, for all their differences, have remained faithful to her obsessions. A public installation in a North Westphalian park (We would survive but without touch, without skin, 2021); a performance dyeing fabrics of fruit, juice and bark, crimson under several hours of sunlight (Variations des cœurs, 2021); reflections distorted by water, drowned in portraits, printed like photographs (Magma, 2023); these same reflections choreographed in a video (Limb, 2023); chromed silhouettes breathing in mid-air (Tout ce qui tombe, 2023); ceramic creatures, their tentacles fired in enamel (Domna, Osmonde et Etmel, 2023).

And yet, in the spring of 2024, it was these legs that she chose to return to. As if the sculptures had only taken their first steps, and needed to grow a little longer. The new bones were matched by new stacks, but the composition remains the same: a happy marriage of disparate materials in which silicone embraces wood, hoisted up from shoe-like pedestals. Here we find what in the meantime has become one of the artist’s signatures: the meticulousness of the action mixed with the signs of wear and tear, a formal vocabulary of waves and curves meeting certain artifices of femininity. I am thinking of these false nails assembled like coral, entangled in monumental meshes (Xenophora [kiss], Xenophora [mother], 2022); of Rapunzel’s braid, her blond hair strewn across the floor, sticking out of the window of an old boys’ school like an incitement to escape (Xenophora, Sila, 2022).

Galerie loevenbruck chloe royer 16 1 medium
Chloé Royer, Vue de l’exposition Heels Over Head, galerie Loevenbruck © Photo Fabrice Gousset, courtesy Loevenbruck, Paris

Perhaps these legs were also the harbingers of escape; who knows if they aren’t preparing to run, to take to their heels, to throw off their blows, get rid of what has cost them. Observing them, I think of this quote from Lauren Berlant by author Aurelia Guo: “My mother died of femininity… In her late teens she took up smoking, because it was sold as a weight-reduction aid. […] Later, she had an abortion and on the way out tripped down the stairs in those heels, hurting her back permanently. Decades later, selling dresses at Bloomingdale’s, she was forced to carry, […] 500 lbs. of clothes each day.

[…] [These tasks threw her back out anew, and the result of this was an overconsumption of painkillers that ultimately blew out her kidneys. […] more comically, she had two fingers partly amputated because her nails got infected by a ‘French wrap’ gone wrong […].”1

All this reminds me of the strange homonymy between the noun heel and the verb to heal, as if the latter necessarily called for the bandaging of the former. I’m also reminded of the various expressions that make the shoe the site of a face-to-face encounter. The saying goes that you have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you can judge them (To walk a mile in someone else’s shoes). And when you fall in love, you fall head over heels for someone.2 Chloé reverses this phrase to give the exhibition its title: “Heels over head” — an inversion of terms that plays on the ambivalence of the word over. Not only are the heels over the head, but they are preferred to it — in the phrase to pick something over something else. This is a reminder that Gina 105, Lispsia 70, Sumoh, Serena TR and Aude 90 have no faces; that their expression is all in their posture, their arrangement or in this anatomical outline, which sometimes becomes more detailed, vertebra after vertebra, and sometimes asserts itself with the clarity of the drawing. Some of the joints fit together like puppets. They are put together like Kapla building blocks, thrown together; they are like those dolls you pull apart than patch together. A few years later, these sculptures continue to speak of childhood and the world of play. Perhaps they are more open about their DIY nature, their artificiality, because now they display the secrets that hold them together, the steel plates, originally hidden by an assemblage of carpet, over which the legs appeared to float.

Galerie loevenbruck chloe royer 17 1 medium
Chloé Royer, Vue de l’exposition Heels Over Head, galerie Loevenbruck © Photo Fabrice Gousset, courtesy Loevenbruck, Paris

“Heels Over Head” has expanded the foundations more than the illusion. It has abandoned the enigma to show the tricks of the trade. If you get up close, you can see the smoothing of the wood and the precision of the cutting. There are not so many jolts in these sculptures, no splinter you would struggle to dislodge. Are these translucent plasters really hiding something? Rather, they incite us to look at the wounds we can’t see, and highlight those wounds invisible to the naked eye. These bandages are more make-up than mask, more tourniquet than bandage — here to hold the limbs together along a metal wire. In their palette, I find something of the beauty ritual described by Daphné B. in her book Maquillée: “When I powder myself, when I cream myself, I get closer to this body that I spend my life ignoring. I give it back some importance, some dignity. I give it a smile and blush its cheeks. I take care of it, of me, of us. I split myself in two to better embrace myself.”2 How can we fail to see this same embracing movement in Chloé’s assemblages?

Salomé Burstein

1 Lauren Berlant, “For Example”, Supervalent Thought, 2012, quoted by Aurelia Guo in World of Interiors, Brussels and London, Divided Publishing, 2022, p. 13.

2 Daphné B., Maquillée. Essai sur le monde et ses fards, Paris: Grasset, 2021, p. 120.

06 St Germain Zoom in 06 St Germain Zoom out

6, rue Jacques Callot

75006 Paris

T. 01 53 10 85 68 — F. 01 53 10 89 72


Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 7 PM
Other times by appointment

The artist

  • Chloé Royer