Marie Amar's 'conceptual photography' will all come out in the wash
Friday 01 April 2011
They look like ghostly Rothkos – 10 uniform rectangles made up of beguiling bands of like colours. But Marie Amar doesn't use oil and canvas to create her work; rather she painstakingly collects the lint that builds up in her washing machine and layers it, according to colour, to create one-off "dust sculptures". She then photographs the wispy structures – some pinky violet, some yellowy white, depending, one imagines, on the day's load – and enlarges them into large-scale prints.
The results are strangely beautiful: barely there, smudgy spectrums made up of the stuff we normally wouldn't look twice at – fluff and fibres, dust and dirt, even microscopic particles of human skin and hair.
La Poussière (Dust) forms part of the opening exhibition at the new Brancolini Grimaldi gallery in London's Mayfair, and is the first time Amar's "conceptual photography" has been shown in the UK. Fascinated by decay, the ephemeral and things on the verge of disappearing altogether, the Parisian artist started out in the Nineties photographing imprints left by everyday objects – a watch, a shoe, a pipe, a pair of glasses – in the sand. More recently, she has photographed dead leaves, bleached of their colour and on the point of disintegration. Blown up to massive scale on a blinding white background, the extreme close-ups look as though they've been sculpted out of clay. Her last series, La Maison, saw her nosing around cobweb-strewn corners of abandoned houses, capturing their nearly empty, dusty rooms with a Vermeer-like serenity. And for the last year she's been documenting the renovation of the Art Deco Palais de la Mutualité in Paris.
Finding beauty in unlikely places excites Amar. Dust plays with this contradiction, turning the waste products of the human desire for cleanliness into fine art to be hung on a pristine white wall.
"The material I extract from the washing machine is something between humans and technology. Today we use machines for everything. Rather than resisting this, what can we get from it, positively and culturally?" asks the artist. "My work is like a weed pushing through in a dead garden. Suddenly something is growing out of the dust. And it's not dead anymore." The messy aftermath of one red sock in a whites wash will never look quite the same.
Brancolini Grimaldi, London W1 (www.brancolinigrimaldi.com) 8 April to 21 May
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