ShmuesMarch 10 - April 16, 2022
ShmuesMarch 10 - April 16, 2022
Tania Mouraud has been interested in the plasticity of writing since the 60s. Inspired by both poetry and computer codes, her work transforms signs in search of a universal language. In her works, writing has become a medium of representation that questions our perception of reality, thus becoming a political tool. In 1997, she called out passers-by with her City Performance n°1, a series of 54 monumental billiards spread out in the East of Paris reading the simple French word: NI (neither).
Through this absolute negation and rejection of the impossible alternative offered by a patriarchal and consumerist society, Tania Mouraud expressed her intention to take a different look at the world. Her desire to create outside of the conventional framework manifests through her entire body of work. In 1990, her use of computer programming for the exhibition Alea 718 already indicated her will to emancipate from pictorial canons, which she also signified with the burning of all her paintings in 1968. In 2015, her Mots Mêlés series transformed excerpts of poem and opera into abstract compositions using a programming tool, turning language into a maze. Since 1979, standing on a thin line between the readable and the unreadable, her Wallpaintings have brought her elongated writing to an architectural scale, which now requires special attention to be read and understood. Her very graphic calligraphies are a combination of various media, as is the case with her photographic series, videos, and performances.
The exhibition Shmues (meaning “conversations” in Yiddish) presents the latest research around writing Tania Mouraud has carried on since the beginning of the pandemic. At a time of global health crisis, the artist opens up a dialogue around our individual and collective losses, both present and past. During the first lockdown, she started studying Yiddish, a language that is both intimate and foreign to her, which lost 75% of its speakers during the Holocaust due to death and the Nazi’s plan to eradicate it. Tania Mouraud makes direct quotes of literary pieces written by poets like Avrom Sutzkever and A. Leyeles, transforming them only on a plastic level.
Here, the artist seems to turn ashes into abstract landscapes. These black signs standing over white backgrounds are reminiscent of her Nostalgia (2019) series of photographs, in which a thin line of trees stand in the immaculate horizon. Here, however, the interpretation of the painting is complex, at the crossroad of image and writing, writing and scribble, drawing and painting. While in Yiddish, letters are separated, the artist here chose to connect them, condensing the words to make them thick, tight, hard, and undecipherable. By using an alphabet she found in a Dead Sea Scroll, she completes the mutation of language into a form nobody can read, except without understanding it. Does writing become an image when it is no longer readable?
This « language of nobody », to use Rachel Ertel’s expression, cut and sculpted into low- relieves, seems to pop out of the wall. Freed from the pictorial framework, it expands over the whole gallery space and calls the viewer out, creating spaces where our eyes can wander and our individuality be mirrored.
On canvas, her scattered signs overlap. To create her compositions, the artist took the letters of a poem she loved in her hands and threw them on the floor. Downstairs, a melancholic clarinet sings along the trip filmed in Sightseeing (2002), in which we look at a snow-covered landscape behind the windows of a car. The raindrops falling down the windows are like tears that express the sadness of the artist behind the camera. She seems to share the pain she felt during this trip, which ends at the entrance of the Struthof concentration camp in Natzwiller, Alsace. Here too, something metamorphoses into disappearance. Tania Mouraud embraces the world and sublimates its suffering, giving life to artworks that transform the things that have been erased.
Cécile Renoult, 2022
Artist : Tania Mouraud
Ceysson & Bénétière
21 rue Longue
Tuesday - Saturday
11am - 6pm
T: +33 4 27 02 55 20