Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest
is a multi-faceted project by Los Angeles-based artist Alexandra Grant encompassing a series of public drawing sessions, reading groups, artist collaborations and an installation at 18th Street Arts Center. Co-curated by Pilar Tompkins Rivas and Isabelle Le Normand, this work premiers in Santa Monica and is presented at Mains d'Oeuvres in Saint-Ouen, France this fall.
Based on an ongoing exchange with the iconic French author, poet, playwright and philosopher Hélène Cixous, Grant focuses on Cixous' book Philippinesas a source for imagery, centering on the repeating thematic of the forest as a profound shared space. Drifting between a real and an imagined place, the forest becomes a site for communion with what Cixous terms "the perfect Other." In Philippines, Cixous explores the philosophical and sociological constructs of the "Other," linking texts from Sigmund Freud on the shared dream, Jacques Derrida on telepathy, and the story of Peter Ibbetson, a novel by Georges du Maurier, where two childhood friends separated by class and country are reunited as adults in their joined dream-life. Within Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest, Grant examines the "twinned" ideas of Philippines, such as dreaming and reality, telepathy and empathy, and relationships between man and woman, adult and child, and colony and colonizer, through illustration of the text, an installation of the forest as image and stage-set, and through collaborations with other artists and the public.
Structured as a residency and an exhibition, Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest extends Grant's studio practice into the arena of public engagement. Grant will hold collaborative drawing sessions ongoing through the month of May that invite community participation to construct a large-scale, site-specific work. Exploring the space between a specified aesthetic and shared process, Grant engages artists Frances Garreston, Channing Hansen, Bari Ziperstein, Annelie McKenzie and Tina Linville to produce sculptural, "Visiting Trees" (Arbres d'Ailleurs) for the installation. Artists Lita Albuquerque, Renee Petropoulos, Steve Roden and Audrey Cottin will undertake "Drawing Residencies" as part the participatory drawing illustrating Philippines. The general public -- students, guests and passersby -- are invited to draw and will be named as participants.