Through drawing, performance, music, installation, and film, Pauline Curnier Jardin (b. 1980, Pertuis, France) crafts fictional adventures full of chance occurrences and wonders that nonetheless carry with them the potential for mishap or misfortune. Through lighting, color, texture, costume, soundtrack, and props, she creates transgressive, funny, and highly stylized visual settings that owe more to theater than to conventional narrative cinema. Curnier Jardin’s stories reveal a fascination with monsters, decorative objects, and animals, although her work expresses a particular awareness of the roles women have played in mythology, folklore, and conventional narrative cinema, roles that are commonly stereotyped as saint, witch, mother, or mystic.
Curnier Jardin supports a generous, intelligent, non-systematic vision of continuity between human and nonhuman bodies – humans consume dirt, cave walls dance, a pear is covered with hair. While humans take on animal qualities, things take on human traits, such as love and longing. Usually associated with femininity and passivity, she looks to passion – traditionally opposed to “masculine” reason – as primary to sensations, perceptions, and the subject’s – or object’s – potential for action. More broadly, her work confounds the logic that divides human and nonhuman, rationality and emotion, sacred and profane, ally and enemy, masculine and feminine, showing instead how each is capable of interacting and combining.
By blending the sound and meaning of distinct words and mixing disparate ideas, characters, and environments, her work serves as a receptacle for new kinds of speech, new ways of using language, and new kinds of meaning.
Text by Alise Upitis, MIT List Visual Center, 2014