Michèle Sylvander on Caszuidas screen, Amsterdam.

As part of the “VIDEO GUIDE – Marseilles” screening series on CASZUIDAS screen – Moving Images in Public Space – in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Videospread is pleased to present Michèle Sylvander’s solo show “Sleepless”. The programme will be launched in July 2009 and screened for one year.

Profession: Artist
Gender: Female

Over one hundred years and the determination of many women were necessary to break the bonds that tied female artists to their social status of being Women: excluded from Fine Arts training, from signing contracts with gallery owners without their husband’s consent… A handful of women lead the way and fought to obtain an identical and equal status as men’s, in a field that had long been a masculinist territory.

The networks and groups of women artists, authors, gallery owners, patrons… that arose in Paris in the pre, in-between and post-war years, were not so much associations or partnerships based on the sharing of professional, sexual, social or cultural values, standards or interests, but rather a community which allowed others to act knowing that they were part of a shared reality.

Marie Laurencin, Tamara de Lempicka, Sonia Delaunay, Iris Clert, Niki de Saint Phalle, Annette Messager and Louise Bourgeois – to state only a few – have in turn asserted themselves in a professional context which was for long, ruled by the only will of men. They have, by their achievements, allowed other women to overstep purely formal issues, to take part in the reflection and construction of the global Art theory.

Michèle Sylvander’s programme – Sleepless – is the sixth of a series of seven solo shows dedicated to contemporary women artists who have chosen Art as a field for research, expression and personal development.

Michèle Sylvander

– Text by Guillaume Mansart –

Michèle Sylvander’s body of work is oriented essentially towards photography but has a complementary development in installations, drawings and video. Her work generally questions genre, sexual norms, political and/or social body and relations to others… The use of self-portrait and family life is central in her work, and through this use she attests of the degree of universality contained in the intimacy of personal experience, and furthermore, of the stage for social recognition – the « self » as part of the family unit corresponding to a metonymy of the « self » as part of the larger world.

Sylvander’s figure can be interpreted as a recurrent form in her photographs and videos, a multiplicated face, a serial body, divided, often hidden behind multiple transparencies. The use of the veil – metaphorical or real – repeats the interest in the tenuous borders between what is hidden and what is left to be seen. « My images are part of the “undefined”, the sex and the rest, the artist explains. What interests me is the surface of things », the skin, the screen, the clothing, the mask, the burqa, all that has the capacity to captivate and on which you can project. All that reveals and veils – or negates – in a same process.
Sylvander’s position is neither militant, nor proclaiming. Nonetheless, she does declare there is a power over the body’s surface and it is deep down that wounds are carved and resistance appears.

Michèle Sylvander works at the junction of being and appearing. The intimate is a battlefield which she handles with caution, and rather than intimacy, it is more about « extimacy » – the need to exteriorize an internal « self » in order to open a dialogue and start an exchange.

Mixing elements from her own life with strange and frightening spectacles deriving from a dreamlike imagination, she is able to build an ambiguous and multi-levelled creation. Her works are the materialization of all the possibilities of one’s « self », of all the potential spaces for real or fictitious characters, wandering one beside another towards the spectator to interrogate the never-ending stories of each and one of us.