For many years, Denise Frechet juggled her artistic practice with her scientific career. She is now completely devoted to her art. From 1983 to 1986, she was in New York City and she attended the New York Feminist Art Institute. she became familiar with the works of Louise Bourgeois, Myriam Shapiro Judy Chicago and many other women artists. In 2015, she was invited for an artist residency by “Da Wang Culture Highland” (Shenzhen China). This residency was concluded by a solo show: “Snapshots from Wutong”. Her other solo shows include “C’est le printemps au Delta” (Delta, Paris, 2013) and “Désir Viscéral” (L’Openbach, Paris, 2018). She also took part in several group shows on the theme of “upcycling art” : “Metamorphosis 2018” (Espace Ségur, Paris 2018), “Universal Sea Award” (Center of Polish Sculpture, Oronsko Poland 2018), “Extraordinaires objets de l’ordinaire” (Villa Belleville, Paris, 2017), “Seconde vie par l’art” (Conseil Général, Nancy, 2012) , ”Met’Art Morphoses 4”(Nogent-le-Roi , 2012).
- Who are you, where are you from and what inspires you?
Born in Quebec, I live in Paris and work in Montreuil. Sculpture and installations are my favored means of expression. My work is inspired by my personal experiences but also by contemporary events and social, ecological or political issues. It can be provocative, sexualized and political, but humor and irony are never far when I reveal the vulnerability at the heart of the human condition or tell poetic stories about the desires and contradictions of our time. André Breton wrote: “Beauty will be CONVULSIVE or it will not be at all.” The beauty that I am looking for jolts and questions. Artists who inspire me most are those who come from dada or surrealism, such as Meret Oppenheim or Hans Bellmer and their contemporary inheritors, such as Louise Bourgeois and Annette Messager. These artists were able to transform the experience of everyday life into a piece of art. Through their use of found objects, they also revolutionized the way of depicting reality.
- What is your relationship with Up-cycling Art ?
Up-cycling is at the heart of my artistic process. My starting point is often a found object, chosen for its strong symbolic charge. Used objects that are removed from their original context acquire a different meaning in a work of art. My works are assembled like dreams in which various elements come together by free association and directly address our imagination. I use objects in different ways. Ready-made objects are assembled as the elements of a composition or combined with a shape created using another technique (ceramics, glass paste, metal, textile, plaster, paper…). Objects can also be molded and represented as their absence or transformed into the material for sculpture. Sometimes I work in series or combine different elements in one installation. My initial idea is in constant dialogue with the material as I assemble, construct and deconstruct. This interactive process continues until I can give a title to the artwork.
- Why do you include the anthropocene in your Art ?
Recycling is not the only way my concern for ecology has an influence on my work. It is not possible anymore to ignore the chaos induced by the Anthropocene. Like many artists, I am concerned with the anthropocene. The recent coronavirus pandemics shows that we are all inter-dependent. Rapid urbanization and the destruction of eco-systems will bring wild species closer to humans, and allow viruses to jump from one species to another with far reaching consequences. I am not naive enough to be able to say that art will change the world, but I hope that it can raise awareness and show that another reality is possible.
- What does “Apocalypse Babies” represent?
When I heard the news about Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, I was deeply upset. I was wondering how it was possible to use such deadly energy in such unstable environment. My major concern was how future newborn in the area would be affected by the massive radioactivity and how all objects in the area would turn into deadly weapons. I decided to build this installation called “Apocalypse Babies” It is composed of a mobile and a series of drawings and photographs. On the ground, drawings and photographs remind us that genetic mutations are a major consequence of this radioactive rain.
The cloud is made of polyester fiber.
From the cloud, falls a shower of debris and traces life, everyday objects now carrying death. They surround the child, burned, stillborn or aborted?
The drawings, oil pastels, were made at the Dupuytren museum on inkjet prints of the catastrophe. (The Dupuytren museum, now closed, was a museum of anatomical pathology in Paris)
- Why have you done the Plasticos Multicolorus ?
I am aware of the existence of the 7th continent or great Pacific garbage patch. It is a swirling soup of plastic micro particules leading to the intoxication of marine fauna. The impact of plastic pollution is especially important for the survival of albatross. Indeed Albatross are prone to eating plastic debris and feed it to their chicks, because for them, plastic smells like food. Now nearly all Albatross have plastic in their stomach, and their population is sharply decreasing. I decided to make an artwork inspired by this situation : Plasticos Multicolorus. Plasticos Multicolorus is an installation presented as a Natural History Museum exhibit. It is made up of a bird, the Plasticos Multicolorus, a globe, showing the location of the plastic sea, and a mock press release describing the discovery of the Plasticos Multicolorus, a bird feeding on plastic debris.
The Plasticos Multicolorus, is made of plastic bags, plastic bottles, polyurethane foam and hangers. Its size is: 100 cm * 179 cm * 28 cm. It should be hanged and it weights 3 kg. The globe’s diameter is 30 cm, it should be presented on a plinth or a table. The 7th continent is represented on this globe by glued plastic bags, giving us an estimate of the surface of this new continent compared to the ones we already know. The mock press release is 30 cm * 42 cm. You can find it below.
This installation is made out of plastic garbage and shows ways to recycle this garbage. It also makes us reflect upon the fate of birds: if nothing is done concerning the plastic pollution of the seas, only plastic birds might survive!
- What was your inspiration for “The Last Tree”?
“The Last tree” is a sculpture hanging from the ceiling. It is made of wood and plastic bottles. It is not in very good shape! Deforestation is one of the major problems caused by human activity: intensive agriculture, meat production, mining, increasing urbanization and more recently biomass energy production. It leads to loss of biodiversity, soil impoverishment and climate change.
- What are your plans for the near future? Are there any specific events or exhibitions you are preparing?
I had a group exhibition going on in Amsterdam. This one will resume after the confinement. It will be the same for another exhibition in Paris which could not take place. Apart from that, I have several applications in progress of which I have no news.
- Finally, given this unusual situation, how do you spend your days now, in your forties?
My studio is more than a kilometre from my home, so I couldn’t get there. I’ve made files to answer several calls for projects, I read and thought about what I was going to do. The coronavirus crisis is too close for me to incorporate it into my work, but I think it will reappear later.
Works of the artist
Inspired by Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, Apocalypse Babies bears witness to our fragility in a world dominated by money where technology destroys nature. The drawings were done at the Dupuytren Museum on photographs of the catastrophe. From the cloud, falls a shower...