Three years after their first collaborative project at the artist-run space Clovis XV in Brussels, KRIEG commissioned Belgian artists Emeline Depas and Cléo Totti to develop a new duo project for the vitrine of Art Contest, ideally located in the heart of the Rivoli Building, itself rapidly turning into a new micro gallery district uptown Brussels.
‘PIED DE NEZ’ is an artistic dialogue between Emeline Depas and Cléo Totti. This is why, the dialogical format of the assisting text came about pretty naturally. Below, you can read a conversation between the two artists, recorded during the build-up.
Cléo Totti: So, tell me about your film.
Emeline Depas: I wanted to create different rhythms and ruptures; there are ‘breathing moments’ and there are rather violent moments, like the scenes with drug addicts, or with people shooting rifles during a carnival. For me, reality is violent and this is why there is a certain violence in the film too.
The film is called Profites and I feel that this word conjures up a feeling of obligation, an immediate binding relationship. I’ve heard the words ‘profites’ or ‘profites bien’ thrown around a lot lately and I started to think that there’s something weird about this concept of having to enjoy something… this imperative to enjoy.
CT: It seems that today enjoyment is merchandised. This ultra-positivity becomes an obligation… enjoy yourself, enjoy your work, and everything will be alright. This discourse of compulsory happiness is just another mechanism of control…
ED: Exactly. Recently, I’ve been interested in how well-being becomes a civic duty; this new vision of happiness or self-fulfillment that is being promoted is closely linked to the rhetoric of productivity, performance, and time management… that might in turn lead to self-exploitation… This is why, in the film, I introduce the NO FEAR brand’s typography, very popular in the 90s. Their t-shirts generally featured defiant slogans or quotes praising the virtues of extreme sports, active lifestyle, and disregard for social norms and the law. My friends had NO FEAR stickers on their scooters… A little nod to that carefree, or rather careless time.
And what about your installation?
CT: It is actually a variation on another series of works, Under Pleasure, and it comprises several sculptural objects, based on molded female bodies. Initially, I wanted to create caryatids – this idea was inspired by my stay in Greece in 2016.
ED: My project actually started in Greece too! I would walk there often and film a lot…. in fact, all footage in the film was taken with my I-Phone. While compiling it, I decided to take on this thing of memory- or travel narrative, an Instagram-like feed of stories…
CT: It was then that I started to think about the body’s relation to architecture and the body as architecture. I was under the impression of the columns carrying the architectural and symbolic load, embodying the economic power, politics, and aesthetics of the state. Similarly, the bodies I represent are also under constant pressure; they are entrenched in their gender roles and in their social status. My intention is to free the bodies from that pressure.
ED: I’m also interested in this pressuring of the body… the relationship of the body with technology and contemporary symbols… The bodies in my video are stray bodies, seen from afar. It is a work of observation and contemplation – I’m behind the screen.
CT: The body I present is captured only for a moment; it deforms under the effect of pressure – figuratively and literally, through the molding technique I use. It becomes almost immaterial. The glass piece I made for the vitrine symbolizes the body in a liquid state, bodily fluids, the residue of sensations…
ED: And what about the rope?
CT: I do boxing and I got inspired by the notion of ‘combat’ governing my life, our lives. A boxing ring rope is 24 meters long, it defines the space dedicated to the fight, and for me, the boxing ring is everywhere. The power relationships extend beyond the ring.
The process itself was a kind of performance since I had to cover 24 meters of rope with velvet fabric. This performative dimension is also specific to capitalism, with its overproduction and at the same time devaluation of manual labor. I find that in your title Profites, there also exists this dimension of ‘performance’.
ED: Your rope is covered with velvet; it seems more carnal this way. It looks a little like a huge pink panther tail…
CT: I like to imagine how the rope absorbs the shock of the fighting bodies and soaks in all bodily fluids – perspiration, blood… I was interested in changing this token of aggression into something soft and sensual. By transforming the ready-made, I wanted to change its status, so that it could evoke something new, possibly sexual or visceral.
ED: It’s as soft and sensual as a kiss…
CT: Kind of like a Klimt, version 3.0.