Art critics often use the concept of “inspiration” to discuss an artist who is looking to the work of an influential predecessor to find the soul for his/her own creations: to be inspired, let’s say. In the case of Isabelle Cornaro (b. 1974, lives in Paris), I would prefer another expression: the one of “horizon,” permitting a more liberated approach to the artist’s sources and letting us dream of how Cornaro’s own creations might dialogue with the reference points she has had in mind since she started to gain recognition for her unique synthesis of post-minimalism, object/technique- oriented practice, and an approach to contemporary culture.
For an artist whose work explores the processes of equivalence and translation, who produces shifts from one regime to another, and quickens the modalities of artistic representation and reproduction, the “horizon” is a space for thinking and adjusting, when reiteration and duplication – molding and looping for instance – are synonyms for constant reassessment. Think about the joy one experiences in front of an ever-changing horizon while driving through the plains of the Midwest. The same landscape Isabelle Cornaro drove through some years ago on a research trip about Edward Kienholz, an American legend – a road trip from which her ongoing series of casts originates, including the ones exhibited here at Thea Westreich Art Advisory Services.
The American horizons in this exhibition conjure two sides of Modern America: on the one hand, Edward Kienholz – perhaps the dark side – and, on the other, Walt Disney – possibly the fairy king. For the film Celebration (2013), Isabelle Cornaro appropriates sequences of Disney masterpieces and distorts them through repetition, color filters, and image layers, also associating them with her own moving images of precisely organized presentations of decorative objects and thrift shops treasures. In so doing, she is “re–reading” Disney aesthetics through her particular lens, creating hypnotic loops of fantasy.
Presented on one horizontal line, the Orgon Door casts (2013) derive from the Kienholz-inspired God Boxes series Isabelle Cornaro began in 2013. Organized according to three principles: symmetry, entropy, and free association, objects of use and transaction are frozen in Elastomer, becoming decorative patterns and ambiguous landscapes. Ambiguity – the dark side of equivalence – hovers on the horizon toward which Isabelle Cornaro is constantly heading. She has said, “I find it difficult to work with pop culture because, in my opinion, it is already overflowing with meaning. Most importantly, pop tends to generate a positive, sentimental relationship to culture that I find unproductive. I prefer working with objects that make me ill at ease. This unsympathetic relationship to my source material creates a tension that I much prefer.”
— Clément Dirié