Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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Rosalie H. Maheux
Sacred Circle XV, 2015
collage; paper on cardboard
32 x 32 in.
RAMOS: Hi Rosalie
RAMOS: thank you for joining me
MAHEUX: I'm excited thanks for having me!
RAMOS: your practice includes a large range of work
from collage montage tapestries to sculpture and structures
i like how the objects tend to have a collage feel
MAHEUX: yes! totally! I describe myself as a multi-disciplinary artist for sure!
That being said I have a lot of interest in sculpture and 2-d works, I feel sculpture for example fit very well with my concepts. I like your point about collage, I guess this is what I do with the subject I treat in my work, i mix icons, hybridized symbol etc...
RAMOS: i just zoomed in on the Sacred Circle...
how big are these pieces?
MAHEUX: They are usually 32"x32" sometimes a little bit bigger
RAMOS: what is your interest or intention with sacred geometry?
MAHEUX: well, I like the sacred aspect of it. I got first exposed to this geometry through catholic churches, stained glass windows, rosaries etc..I remember being mesmerized by the design. And this is the goal of sacred geometry, to focus spiritual attention, to enter trance state, to establish a link with god, to make people to think, to meditate etc..
RAMOS: and then what happened?
MAHEUX: In my works, I constantly play with oppositions. In the case of Sacred Circle series, the sacred and profane are opposed. The use of explicit images in the creation of these detailed patterns clashes with the original meaning of the sacred circle, and creates a dialogue between attraction and repulsion. By using this kind of detailed geometry, the majority of the viewers are from afar "attracted" by the work but without knowing that the design is made of thousand of thousand of tiny explicit images depicting mostly women.
The irony in my work is that it becomes more challenging as you approach it, as its elements draw our attention to our stake in the politics of looking, voyeurism, sexual degradation, sexism, sexuality, and so on.
RAMOS: it makes me think of the distortion of sexuality that can partially be blamed on the Church and that reminds me of Francis Bacon's work, or rather his reaction to the Church for making his sexuality profane.
If the Church has created the parameters for sexual conduct, sacred geometry and profanity is quite appropriate
RAMOS: in that case, I would argue that Church and profanity are not so much opposing.
profanity in a way is an extension of Church by means of prohibition of sexual desire...
which for me is very apparent in your work. this if of course a personal experience
MAHEUX: Yes! I totally agree! Church (catholic as my background) but religions in general often label themselves as the "moral" high ground, the way to follow and act, etc.. but as a woman I have some difficulties with this.
With Sacred Circle Series, it is also about that. It's about the excessive value that society places on women’s sexual attractiveness but also. Given these standards, as a woman artist it only makes sense that I would take the images of women that are out there, including the sexualized and the pornographic, reconfigure them on my own terms, and offer them back as something transformed.
but also a social critic on the traditional and conservative value that we place on women
How we should act through traditional views in opposition to how we should act according to mainstream porn and pop culture.
hope that makes sense
RAMOS: yes it does
after looking at this series, I looked at "Impress the Reaper" and couldn't help to think this sculpture also had sexual connotations... is that so?
Rosalie H. Maheux
Impress the Reaper, 2014.
sculpture; satin, wood, embroidery, name plate, clear varnish, hardware,
44 x 21 x 59 in.
MAHEUX: ahah you are right! obviously I'm very inspired by sexuality and how we deal/treat with sexuality in our society. It's a theme that I loved to approach in my practice.
With Impress the Reaper I explore the duality between death and life.
Originally, I was exploring the subject of death through some old beliefs I had when I was a little girl. I use to think that the highest point of your body (head) will be where your soul will exit once you die. Using that thinking, I really wanted to find a way to make my vagina as the highest point of my body, in order to let my soul leaving my body through my vagina...and maybe have some sweet sensations at the same time....so i decided to build my own coffin, backbend so then the highest point of my body will be my genital.
Because of the shape of the coffin there is a very active reading of the work, suggesting a very uncomfortable rest.
RAMOS: i knew it... except your explanation is different than the narrative I contracted, which was less poetic but perhaps more comfortable rest...
i saw it as one would be placed bent over forwards
MAHEUX: well it can be both!
RAMOS: sort of reminds me of Hieronymus Bosch
MAHEUX: This piece is a kind of experiment. It looks uncomfortable for us (because traditional/conservative way of dealing with death impose on us a way of doing, the need to look comfortable in luxurious installations) but in reality once we are dead, we have a no idea what is comfortable or maybe even dead we can feel stuff and maybe the traditional way of doing is not comfortable at all! so Impress the Reaper is to maybe have a lil bit of fun...
I think I can see how this reminds you of Hieronymus Bosch.
RAMOS: right, i also think it's funny that we make coffins for the dead, it's as silly as making little comfortable boxes for every apple that falls from a tree
it is also silly not to allow our bodies to decompose organically, i think
cause it happens anyway
MAHEUX: exactly! Or bugs..I'm currently working a coffin series for death bugs..same idea!
RAMOS: haha cool
MAHEUX: what is interesting with bugs is we collect them for their beautiful colors, nice shapes etc, with the bug coffin series, I "humanize" them, because they are lay down in a coffin, I show the belly, which as usually no color, instead of showing their beautiful colored wings.
RAMOS: so the piece that i thought was least sexual, which is the cranking toy of sorts - i just read the title
Rosalie H. Maheux
Lick that Pussy, 2012.
kinetic sculpture; wood, plastic, hardware,
14 x 13 x 8 in.
MAHEUX: ahah! Lick That Pussy!
tell me about it
MAHEUX: Lick That Pussy seems to be a very inoffensive cranking toy and for this reason, for its playful aspect it is very attractive. The title brings all the magic to it and reveals its true nature. This piece is all about popular language, how mainstream porn/pop culture depict the vagina/female body. But it is also an 'homage' to the difference between children and adult views of things and life, how we see the same thing but doesn't interpret it the same way. I like thinking the way I was thinking when I was a little girl.
RAMOS: at first, in the image of it, i didn't realize it was a cat
i thought it was a gremlin
MAHEUX: ahaha! a gremlin!
RAMOS: that's my bad... it's curious because i'm sure cat and pussy crossed my mind, but I had known your work only on the surface
so the sacred geometry looked like sacred geometry and the coffin looked like sculpture
MAHEUX: no worries! pictures are not always the best way to feel the work!
ahah I like the gremlin first impression!