Josephine Cachemaille’s installation of assemblages and collages evokes a primitive setting within which contemporary concerns play out. Prop-like cloth wall hangings suggest landscape: mountains, a sun, a cave or portal; a disc of blue velvet on the gallery floor, a pool. Occupying the landscape are entities: lean assemblages of studio detritus, remnants from making processes pieced together with objets trouves. Scale is unspecified and shifting, the entities are and are not human-like, but primal drives appear fundamental: shelter, thirst, procreation.
Deploying sparse visual shorthand, Cachemaille manages to set up age-old dynamics, implying narratives concerned with power, sex, and violence. Her use of found clothing evokes familiar emotional resonances: a coat hanger with card tube legs shimmies tight gold pants onto, or off, its hips evoking dodgy one night stands, risk, pending regret. A kneeling black and gold 80s leotard with a domed crotch may be presenting its genitals, engaged in yoga or worship, or avoiding everyone else in the room. Humour and discomfort are evoked in equal measure: the characters oscillating between being funny and worrying. The title, Same as it ever was, suggests that when it comes to human relationships, nothing has really changed.
Everything in this world feels simultaneously active and inert. Despite the entities’ disembodied forms and makeshift construction, their bodies are thick with intention and effort: kneeling, humping, crawling across the space.
This sense of energy and agency reflects Cachemaille’s central concern with exploring her own capacity as an animist, with art making as a place to reveal the life of inert matter.
By showing us how she has made the assemblages, she implicates herself as ventriloquist, performing the materials into life. This directs attention to our own animist tendencies and our role as viewers in perceiving familiar, mundane materials as bodies with needs, desires and the capacity to act. We see the materials as they are, and as something exceeding the sum of their parts; we believe them.
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