Sylvie Blocher

1953 | Morschwiller-le-Bas, France

French multimedia artist.

After receiving a master’s in visual arts and art history in Strasbourg, Sylvie Blocher created, in collaboration with writer Gérard Haller, Spectacles pour render la vie presentable in the early 1980s, which were between performances and storytelling. The last of the series, Figuren (Festival d’Avignon, 1987) evoked the mass murders of the Second World War and the outrageous part of modernity. At the 1988 Venice Biennale, she was selected for the section “Aperto (Le Grand Atlas)”, and in 1991 she participated in the exhibition 14 Contemporary Artists from France in Toronto. Her latest piece, Déçu la mariée se rhabilla (1991), is a luminous object placed on the floor, which she describes as “full of limited electrical energy that must be recharged every night, a work against any idea of eternity”. Wanting to rethink “an authoritarian modernity from the perspective of otherness” and to oppose the mechanisms of social and emotional control with a practice of “decolonising the self”, she took to return speech “to the faces”.

In 1992 she began the Living Pictures series based on the “sharing of the artist’s authority” with people she met through ads, without castings. The participants had to address an absent face on the other side of the lens; while beside them, the artist used questions as a tool, until one of them tore the sitter away from themselves. This “practice of abandonment” exposed emotions that are out of control (L’Annonce amoureuse, 1995; Men in Gold, 2007). Tracking the singularity of bodies – particularly the feminine in men’s bodies – as a possible way out of an authoritarian community (Le Jugement de Paris, 1995), the image emphasised dissensus and the ethical and political responsibility of art. S. Blocher is also co-founder of the collective Campement urbain, alongside architect François Daune.

Catherine Fraixe

Translated from French by Katia Porro.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
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