Italian visual artist Tatiana Trouvé centres her work around the unique relationship between the material and spiritual world. These innovative themes are conveyed by Trouvé’s beautiful visual interpretations of these spaces through the use of unconventional materials and techniques. In her latest exhibition for Artangel titled Afterness - The Residents, Trouvé depicts her experimental use of design concepts through medium and narrative in the immersive, collaborative project. With over two decades worth of experience behind her, Tatiana Trouvé discusses her intimate relationship with art over the years and how she keeps her creative inspiration ignited.
Your work takes on such a unique concept with the focus of the relationships between material and memory. What inspires this idea?
I like the idea of art as a place where we go on disorientating spatial, mental and temporal journeys. And I think art is a privileged way to access this territory, where frontiers are blurred between material and spiritual, where we can connect differently to things by guiding through space and time differently. I like the idea that all the elements making up worlds, whether they are material or spiritual, are linked to each other by echoes and reminiscences, and that these connections chart the circulations of a common wandering, without origin nor purpose, in an open ecosystem.
Artangel’s exhibition Afterness is a beautiful project with a variety of artists working in different media - poetry, sculpture, drawing, sound, that engage with the singular environment of Orford Ness. How did you come up with the story and production of your piece?
James Lingwood, Artangel’s Co-Director, invited me to think about making a project on Orford Ness in 2019, then the pandemic arrived, the possibility of travel stopped and consequently, I didn’t have the opportunity to go to Orford Ness before the installation of my works in June 2021. I have never worked under such conditions before. When I first looked at photos or videos of Lab 1, I was struck by the familiarity of the place, its connection to some of my drawings. And because the audience couldn’t get inside the Lab for safety reasons, the idea was for the installation to be viewed like a drawing. The history of the site plays, of course, an important role: the military presence with its activities and its secrets, mingling with a nature that never stopped struggling to recover. The Residents is an installation taking up again this technical, natural and cultural history, with human, mineral and vegetal worlds, their many temporalities intertwining one with the other. The inhabitants of Lab 1, The Residents, are in the midst of plants, water, sculptures, suitcases and a totem that seems to be floating on water, but they are also taking place in history. Perhaps they are remnants of a society that has resided in Orford Ness.
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Exhibition view Afterness, 2021, Orford Ness, Suffolk - Photo: Emile Kelly
Some of your work tends to replicate a 2-dimensional form, similar to that of a drawing. What is the relationship between your sculptural works and your drawing practices?
All the things that I create are related one to another, my work is a network... Sculptures and drawings are intertwined. That means that they can exchange their properties and qualities and move from two to three dimensions. Sculptures can draw the spaces, in which they are placed, and drawings can sculpt the spaces in which they are exhibited. The elements, the materials, the shapes can be interchanged. Together they bring about a kind of ecosystem where my drawings, sculptures or installations can echo each other.
What or who are some of your creative inspirations?
Artists have the opportunity to invent their own way of working, but the peculiarity of their work is that it doesn’t really have a time, and it doesn’t respect any schedule. Sometimes I wonder if, when I dream, I don’t work more efficiently than when I walk around my studio to solve a new problem.
You’ve been actively producing brilliant artworks and creating exhibitions for over 2 decades now! How has your approach to art changed over the years?
Every piece I do leads to another, I change with them, as I am changing through the events of the world that affect me. I don’t have the feeling that I changed my way of working, but maybe it is my way of working that changed me.
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Exhibition view Double Bind, 2007 Palais de Tokyo Paris - Photo: Marc Domage
A lot of your work, such as your piece Double Bind, tend to have a stunning spatial focus with subliminals that reference both subconscious and conscious states of being. How do you relay matters of the psyche in within your artwork?
In some of my spatial arrangements, one can find constraints that address the psychic. The body is constantly measured against the framework of a space: they remind us of what our body is supposed to do, and that such and such an object is there for our comfort, for our work, etc. When we reverse the scales and modify the orders in which they are supposed to exist, these objects and their spaces change: they become multiple, between presence and representation, between real world and imaginary world, with all the doubts and worries that carries this instability.
Has becoming an artist always been the career path for you?
No, initially, I would have preferred to do nothing or nothing much. Ideally, I would have liked to live in a barrel with dogs, like Diogenes: but I have neither his wisdom nor his courage. I still share something of this through my life with dogs...
A lot of your pieces have such an expressive finish to them, with the use of industrial materials such as metals. How do you come up with the choice of mediums for your work?
There is a reciprocal relationship between things and materials they are built with. I can start to think while looking at a rock but I can also have an idea that needs to find its rock… I try to work, as far as I can, with materials whose properties I know, in order to have the freedom to repent, start over, or change during the process of doing. When I go to a foundry, I spend long periods there, to the chagrin of the team casting the forms, to continue this dialogue with things and materials.
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What themes do you tend to gravitate towards the most when creating an artwork?
Artworks involve relationships between different elements that exist together, more than themes. Works that have affected me deeply are as mysterious as Orford Ness. Some works grasp us and we don’t really understand why.
What is the most important lesson art has taught you?
It’s not a lesson, it’s a taste: the taste of freedom.
You’ve recently been involved in some amazing art projects. What can we expect from you in the near future?
I am working on several solo shows: one is based on drawings, the exhibition will be at the Centre Pompidou in June 2022, another one is an installation at La Bourse de Paris in October 2023, and yet another is a solo show at the KINDL in Berlin in 2023.
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