To celebrate the Midsummer and the long-awaited endless summer
nights, The Community welcomes ten artists for our second exhibition
in Pantin to take over The Community Centre on 9 rue Méhul and the
neighbouring The Community Garden on 13 rue Méhul.
In “Mystic May”, the artists, whose works linger between fantasy and
realism, reinterpret the existing structures of the urban environment
and place them into re-imagined settings with otherworldly characters
and narratives. The works witness a search for alternative identities,
spaces and times, and a sketch for imaginary universes surrounded by
magic and folklore tales. Suburban houses become alive and haunted,
alley cats rule from the rooftops; metamorphosed plants grow in the
garage boxes while sculptures become shelters for bucolic spirits
and totems erect from the concrete garden. The conveying forces
and energies of the natural and spiritual world are expressed through
careful study of materials in their contemporary forms - including 3D
printing, bronze, clay, epoxy resin, and graffiti. The techniques and
materials reflect a quest for sensuality and a return for expressivity,
even romanticism, recalling the artist’s role as a refined craftsman.
At 9 rue Méhul, the gallery groups together works by B. Anele, JeanMarie Appriou, Eetu Sihvonen, Will Sheldon, Anna Slama, and Marek
Delong. Upon entering the exhibition space, visitors can step into the
acid-green covered tale of Eetu Sihvonen. The video work Heavy Iron
Gate tells the story of a tall-legged house, which transforms from an
idyllic domestic environment to an alienating edifice. This research on
aestheticised barricades continues with the 3D-framed prints on the
wall. Three paintings installed on the opposing wall lead us towards
the entrance of a grim staircase and facades of stylised houses. Wellknown for his tattoo practice, artist and illustrator Will Sheldon equally
paints and draws, always informed by the same Gothic, fairytale-like
characters and landscapes also seen in his practice as a tattoo artist.
In the middle of the gallery space, two sculptural works, Lip Kit Situation
and The Oracle by artist duo Anna Slama and Marek Delong, have
entered a dialogue. In both pieces, the emphasised tactile materials
and figurative aspect highlight the relationship created between the
author(s) and the work. Sculptures and installations become characters
and an act within a psychedelic summer theatre play. On the left wall,
one discovers a bronze bas-relief work Alpha and Omega (Mist) by
Jean-Marie Appriou. The work narrates an archetypal chivalric hero, a
vulnerable yet always protected knight whose destiny intertwines with
the serpentine folkloric creature.
In the very back of the space, a pink-hued room glimmers. It is taken
over by B. Anele, a transdisciplinary artist who works with painting
and drawing, moving image and garments. The video work More 2 C
shows an ornate mural forming the backdrop for the stage where the
artist changes moods, colours, and clothing. Everyday artefacts seem
familiar, both in the video as in the works on paper and garments: yet
they are revisited as if it was a second childhood discovered within
realms of the unknown.
In The Community Garden, on 13 rue Méhul, the artists have been
inspired by the topography of the outdoor space, positioned somewhere
in-between a concrete highway and suburban jungle. In the middle of
the garden, Tom Volkaert’s sculpture, Steering Wheels & Horfeeceries,
erects from the ground like a totem. Featuring circles, contorted
arachnoid limbs, intestines and sickly satanic tongues that are carefully
arranged, the sculpture can be seen as a testimony to the materiality
of memory as much as it is an ongoing tribute to the spiritual and
shamanic force of art. Carefully researched materials, forms, and
colours also embody both personal and universal memories, and the
matrixial mother in which all creativity is situated.
Positioned towards the sunlight is The Everyday Dress by designer and
artist Elina Laitinen - a process-based installation that will transform
throughout the exhibition. The work brings forward the artist’s interest
in the transformative and haphazard processes dictated by nature. In
her native Finland, the Midsummer nights are long and enveloped with
sunlight: this generates the sun-dyed forms of everyday tools that are
positioned on the garment and reference to highly domestic settings.
Under the neighbour’s giant tree, protecting the central part of the
garden, artist Mathis Perron has installed a performative tea bar.
Working in tandem as a herbalist, he has prepared a new infusion
from seven different plants that he has cultivated for Mystic May.
The artist’s detailed studies on plants and their literal and functional
meanings continue with his installation in one of the garages: a massive
dandelion installation which is inspired from the Goethian notion of
Urpflanze, the mother of all the plants. It is the archetypal prototype
plant that contains all the plants of the past, present and future.
A gang of alley cats and dormant bats play hide-and-seek above the
garage boxes: Cyril Debon’s ceramic pieces in the form of empathetic
animal characters are layered with the expressions and poses we all
know from children’s tales in all its theatricality and naïvety. The animal
characters also provide us with a new navigation outdoors, guided by a
feline point of view on architecture.
The fantastical characters and sometimes zoomorphic limbs and
structures in the exhibition guide us towards a more sensitive and
embodied relationship with the surrounding nature: the ensemble of
works creates shelters and manifestations of collective imagination
and communal care, questioning the liminal space of physical and
imaginative boundaries. Eco-sculptures and organic artefacts
intertwined with sometimes shamanist layers and historical tales
provide a different scenario as if revisiting a childhood dream. By
looking deeper into the moods of suburban and metropolitan realities
and environments, the artists bring forward the potential of this
expanded space as a site for daydreaming, bringing forward a different
psychology of space and time.
MYSTIC MAY | The Community Centre + Garden, Paris
by B. Anele, Jean-Marie Appriou, Cyril Debon, Elina Laitinen, Mathis Perron, Will Sheldon, Eetu Sihvonen, Anna Slama & Marek Delong, Tom Volkaert