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Multi-media French artist takes up residency

Installation and sculptural French artist Chloe Quenum is Te Whare Hēra’s 2018 international artist in residence.

Jointly run by Massey University’s Whiti o Rehua School of Art and the Wellington City Council, with support from the French Embassy, the residency enables artists to live in a purpose-built studio, gallery and apartment suite at Clyde Quay Wharf on the Wellington waterfront.

Ms Quenum works across a range of media and also draws on her background in textile arts and anthropology.

As part of her residency she will give a public lecture about her work on Thursday March 15 at Massey’s Wellington campus.

Ms Quenum is a visual arts graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, in Paris. She lives and works in the French capital and is represented by the Galerie Joseph Tang and her work has been included in group shows at the Palais de Tokyo and the Fondation Ricard, Beauborg in Paris. She has also had solo exhibitions in Los Angeles and Amsterdam.

Ms Quenum works with glass, metals, textiles and concrete, and with processes of staining, transparency and casting. Key elements in her work are the references she makes to furniture, architectural structures and symbolic coding. Sensitive to the role materials play in building stratum and to the architectural contexts in which her highly constructed objects are encountered, Ms Quenum explores the complex layering of space and time. She is interested in how the spatial arrangements of her installations present audiences with multiple points of view.

In Am stram gram (2012), the glass folding screens and glass public park benches invite audiences to reflect on the complex and layered relationship between public and private space and considers the porous nature of the boundaries that often divide them. More recently she has been working with Middle Eastern rugs. Woven with symbolic meaning rugs like these were prized artefacts collected by western travelers from exotic cultures and landscapes to showcase their wealth and taste, she says. In Dune (2015) at Beauborg audiences navigate through, over and between layered stacks of rugs, some covering elevated structures like sets of stairways that go nowhere. Ms Quenum proposes to re-orient their historical past alongside contemporary provocations, while in the more recent Circuit III Modife (2015) the artist stains the rugs with household bleach to reveal what she refers to as “new chromatic ranges”.

Associate Professor Ann Shelton from Whiti o Rehua School of Art says during her artist residency at The Whare Hēra, Ms Quenum will continue textile research on the symbolic coding and graphic and chromatic systems of traditional textiles – a project she has been working on for the last two years that has taken her to Benin, Togo, and Nigeria in West Africa. While in New Zealand she aims to work with College of Creative Arts partners at Te Papa, Māori School of Art staff plus other external Māori specialists in discussing the patterns within whatu raranga, kakahu and other woven taonga tuku iho. She has also expressed interest in engaging with tā moko experts to understand more appropriately, this revitalized customary practice.

Chloe Quenum gives a public lecture about her work at 6pm, Thursday March 15, in The Pit lecture theatre, Entrance C, Massey University, Wellington.

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