First Act: Evil Fluffy both marks the end of Israeli artist Ruti de Vries’ residency at Cité internationale des arts de Paris and the start of her collaboration with French curator Charles Garcin. Two narratives invite to appreciate a work unveiling itself over time: that of a freshly formed duo; that of a story with its load of characters and new plots, yet to be told along the three chapters of its itinerary (Paris, Marseille, Israel).
In Cité des arts’ Petite galerie, scriptural bodies inaugurate the show. Playlets in cardboard complete their representation.
These fawn-coloured, clay-toned frescoes illustrate hybrid beings, whose interspecies ubiquity (man/animal) recalls their lack of genderness and assert playfully their staged crossing of references (profane/sacred). The use of cardboard, adhesive, coffee-bags implement the general disorganisation of quoting resourcefulness. Carved stone, hieroglyphs, blown-up rupestrian beasts, Hellenic shards or Mesoamerican style faux echo the thirst of an era, where the unquenchable travel of men equates that of mass-produced, globalized goods and data. It therefore is logical Ruti de Vries is interested in the question of waste. Abandoned items find new life in her work like tracing paper of personal encounters. Kimonos, lamp-shade, checkers found in a cupboard, book or nylon bin-bags from a trip she ran to Germany. Each material is an index of adventures and of thwarted expectations. The inanimate breathes. In the middle of the room "Everyman*” rests, a book on its deflated hand, day-dreaming. “The Surrender” - unlikely encounter of a cut-out with a ready-made - adorn a cluster of found-objects. The uniform figure made of cardboard seating on a wheel-chair raises the self-indulgent pole of its declassification: a rag as a white flag. “Dog-Turtle”, a sphynx of cloth; “Evil Fluffy”, a black-wool anteater glued on a cork board. By building together a precarious imaginary, Ruti de Vries questions some assumptions on contemporary creativity. Her economy of means flourishes in one as much generous as much as incongruous visual enterprise. To savoir-faire she opposes savoir-être, to socially-correct forms the pleasure of derision, to classic art materials that of the ordinary opening up, like the gestures she uses, the idioms of a wealthy banality (often unconsidered). Like smokescreens attracting birds, Ruti de Vries tips us over her universe to better handle a reflection of ourselves, and may-be, help to emancipate.
* : Everyman is the name of the protagonist of a 15th century morality play. The name is chosen in 1906 by Joseph Dent, a London visionary publisher, whose quest was to make accessible to the poor the jewels of literature. He founded Everyman’s Library, where the book found by Ruti de Vries in her residency comes from.
2018 FIRST ACT: EVIL FLUFFY, Cite Internationale des-art, Paris, France. Curator: Charles Garcin. Photo credit: Harald Hutter