Gaëlle Choisne12.10.22 - 16.10.22
NıCOLETTı is delighted to present a solo exhibition by French-Haitian artist Gaelle Choisne (b. 1985). Working with sculpture, photography and objects drawn from Caribbean folk traditions, Choisne creates opulent environments addressing the complex relationship between colonial history, ecology and racism.
At FRıEZE, Choisne presents five Memoires akashiques [Akashic Records], an ongoing series of sculptures made of acrylic resin and food pigments that the artist first presented at The Fifth New Museum Triennial in 2021. Engraved with figures, plants and medical drawings found in colonial archives, Choisne’s sculptures are named after the Sanskrit term ‘akasha’, which in Hindu philosophy refers to ‘aether’ or ‘atmosphere’. In the 19th century, the term ‘akasha’ was used in the religion of Theosophy to form an esoteric concept designating the ensemble of universal events, thoughts, emotions and intent to have occurred in the past, present, or future, forming a sort of DNA of the universe. Described as the ‘indestructible tablets of the astral light’ by the founder of theosophy H. P. Blavatsky (1831-91), the Akashic Records evoke the inseparability of matter and meaning: that is, how immaterial ideas embed themselves in physical matter and, in turn, how materiality informs the emergence of concepts and thoughts.
Twisting this concept to analyse how the residues of colonialism pervade the material world, Choisne’s sculptures are displayed on glass plinths, contrasting their abounding materiality with lightness and transparency. Two larger versions are mounted on metal binding and shown on the wall, evoking the altarpieces’ panels that alternatively reveal and conceal narratives.
Similar ideas of openness/dissimulation are explored in Some Food for the Afterlife, Blackface (2018), apiece of quilted fabric taking the form of a survival blanket embroidered with objects collected in deserted refugee camps. Conceived as a monument to obliterated lives, Choisne’s textile work is inspired by Cuban artist Carmen Lydia Duric (also know as Hessie, 1936-2017), who created the feminist movement of‘Survival Art’, in which detritus, discarded and everyday objects were used to elaborate tactics of resistance against discrimination, dissolution and loss.
Choisne’s textile work will be accompanied by a Venus carved on walnut. Reminiscent of ancient fertility goddesses, the sculpture was made using a CNC machine, bringing this ancestral icon of women empowerment to the technological present. Presented on a crate printed with photographs taken in Haiti, Choisne’s Venus completes a display reflecting upon the permanent displacement of ideas, memories and beliefs across space and time.