The works of Anna Solal bring into play an almost primitive system of figuration. Or more precisely: primordial. That is to say that they flatten all of the intrinsic categories that normally equip our gaze, which are fundamentally oriented by their relationship to the real. The entire system of western art, its foundational myths, its evolution and its conceptual armature, rests upon a perpetual oscillation between the two extreme poles that are realism and abstraction. To this system, Anna Solal does not oppose a difference of degree, but indeed of kind. She extracts herself from it. If her assemblages seem primitive or primordial, it is because we can no longer understand them according to the usual coordinates, for the simple reason that they call for yet a third category: neither realist nor abstract, they are real. Real, not in the sense that they have not undergone a process of creation, or that they do not make use of images or symbolic motifs. Real, in the sense that their process of fabrication proceeds the specific space-time of the artist, her position in a geography, in a socio-economic organization and of the symbols integrated into the collective imagination.
In this respect, the assemblages and drawings by Anna Solal, as well as their recontextualization through each exhibition, are understood as so many infra-worlds adhering to the methodology of “situated knowledges.” This term was invented by Donna Haraway for an article a 1988 article of the same name. She tests it against a contemporary world in which the neoliberal economic system has gradually eroded the historical structures of western democracy, up to the point that it has substituted itself for them. Born in 1988, the artist is today based in the close-in suburbs of Paris. She became known for assemblages that she realizes using vernacular urban materials – rubbish, then – that are found or sourced in local and informal circuits. Broken screens and smartphones, soles of soccer shoes, disposable razors, bicycle chains and various pieces of string and other pieces of metal, plastic and cloth are manually knotted together. They are then recomposed as clocks, kites, or swallows. A way, she explains, to enter as little as possible into a relationship of domination with the materials. Simultaneously, these assemblages progressively incorporate a central drawing. The assemblages are frames, supports or jewelry for meticulous pencil drawings, colored like clouds, cups of tea or intimate genre scenes.
To say it another way, by following the tripartition expounded by Tiziana Terranova in the introduction to her essay Network Culture (2004), Anna Solal echoes the way in which each technological transformation gives birth to “concepts, techniques and milieux” inside a given society. This technological transformation in question joins what we have already posited as a socio-economic structure: the realization of neoliberalism through information technologies. This then also implies contract work that is detached from its site of production (the factory, the office), made flexible, individualized and delocalized throughout, and which for this reason, coincides with the entire sphere of praxis: what Marxist terminology, and the branch of Italian Automatist Marxism to which the author claims to adhere, designates as the phenomena of “subsumption.” The most recent cycle of Anna Solal’s exhibitions testifies even more explicitly that there is no longer any exterior or underside to networked culture. Centered around the construction of a fictional domestic space, the first in the series of exhibitions this summer at Futura in Prague she installed the elements of a bathroom.
This time, at Passerelle in Brest, the second exhibition which preceeds a third at the Galerie Edouard Manet – Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Gennevilliers, the artist concentrates on the space of a garden. There are swallows here, which function as a clue to the impossibility of escaping outside, of escaping these downgraded materials found in the street, and through them, of escaping the total hold that a system of dematerialization enabled by communication technologies has on every human, penetrating walls and making data of flesh, even at home, in supposedly private spaces, propelling the local into the global scale. Anna Solal makes her work at home – this detail is not insignificant – producing her work alone and whose scale is that which her own domestic space allows. In that, her works are real, immanent and intimately sensitive. The density and the ambiguity belonging not to the things, but to the works, are acquired in the sense that they especially give witness to the space of disadherence allowed to each individual in this system, who then creates within this given situation in order to map out at her scale, at a human scale, precarious constellations that are at once enchanting and resilient.
Text by Ingrid Luquet-Gad
Photos by Aurélien Mole, 2019