Issues

Bringing a Sculptural Platoon of Female Soldiers to Life

Posted by: Kevin Coyle

These excerpts were curated from an article written by Alina Cohen for Hyperallergic.com

For the project, Perret cast two of her friends’ faces (artist Latifa Echakhch and gallerist Laura Ravelli). These works in particular produce an uncanny, unsettling effect. Perret smeared petroleum jelly on the glass wall that separates the gallery from the rest of the museum, emphasizing this division from reality. The sculptural dog is a grotesque creature, an eyeless, brown and red ceramic work that looks vaguely scatological. Through its various components and their staging in the gallery, the exhibition explores the line between authenticity and fabrication, especially in regard to the female form.

Perret’s inspiration for these sculptures was very real: the all-female fighter group in the Kurdish region of Rojava in northern Syria, the Yekîneyên Parastina Jin (or Women’s Protection Units). This detail, though emphasized in the literature about the exhibition, seems almost irrelevant when viewing the work. There’s nothing in the show to indicate a particular conflict. This adds a layer of strangeness to the figures’ positions. They seem to be waiting around, wielding guns to fend off a threat that may or may not exist. The bright, playful-looking weapons similarly downplay the seriousness of any possible confrontation.

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On the afternoon of June 4, Perret staged a performance in the museum, a series of “happenings” that occurred over the course of two hours. Her collaborators included dancer Anja Schmidt, singer Tamara Bennett-Herrin, and musician Beatrice Dillon, in addition to students from the Meadows School at Southern Methodist University. At various points, the performers crawled around the perimeter of the museum, sliding along the railings and down the stairs; dragged each other along the floors; piled on top of each other; and sat in a circle and passed around an invisible object. Dillon sat in a corner of a large gallery, producing percussive beats that provided a steady, rhythmic backdrop. Some students added to the effect with percussion and other subtle sounds.

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