N.B. Originally published in the Absinthe §2 Catalogue, published by Side Quest, produced to accompany the Absinthe §2 exhibition, curated by Billy Fraser, Charlie Mills and James Capper, 18.05.19 – 17.08.19, Spit and Sawdust Pub.
Hector Campbell : Your work simultaneously contains a strong emphasis on both physical and visual representation, incorporating textiles or working directly on a textured material such as dust sheets and plaster. How do you approach the matching of images and materials?
Marie Jacotey : It all feels empirical. I’m indeed drawn to the very material aspect of making, in a simple, almost abstract, way. Regardless of content, finding tension and balance between contrasting mediums, imagining some unexpected matches, is one of the motors and great joy of my practice. Simultaneous to that playful physical research, I have various obsessive themes that come in the form of texts and figurative depictions that participate in the global harmony and fundamental hybrid nature of everything I make.
Explaining further how I connect form and fund, other than by intuition, is complicated. Some associations seem to make sense and I trust my initial gut feeling whilst refining the intention as the work emerges.
H.C : Despite using a very analogue form of creation, pencil on paper, your drawings contains aspects of visual construction more in line with photography and cinematography. Are you influenced by those two disciplines?
M.J : Yes definitely, but mainly photography, which is everywhere nowadays. I have a huge database of pictures that I collect to use as inspirational material, both that I take myself and also that I find online or in magazines and catalogues. I guess my way of composing images is an obvious testimony of the nature of my sources. I do love cinema, but films are paradoxically less of a direct influence than literature, for instance, would be on my work.
H.C : Your works depiction of often mundane, quotidian yet intimate activities and occurrences would suggest a similarity to the oversharing we see daily on social media. However, I understand your drawing are rarely, if at all, autobiographical? What is your relationship to social media and your opinion on the blurring of the public and the private?
M.J : In a way, my drawings participate in the exact same strip-tease, and feed the very same hunger, that exists within social media. If they aren’t autobiographical per se, they still are highly personal and employ that oversharing aspect more than they wish to comment on it. The exponential usage of social media and its blurry nature of the public and private to me is just an indicator that people are starved for an understanding of both themselves and each other.
The only distinction I would make between anybody sharing their everyday life on Instagram, for instance, and the work I make, would lie in the translation that takes place in any artistic endeavour. I’m transforming experiences in order to process them. The intention at work is inherently different. Plus, the public display of the intimate within a work of art is actually a very old fashioned and classical thing to do. The fact that the depiction of intimacy seems now to primarily reference social media rather than being considered as inherent to the nature of art doesn’t bother me. And, accessing so openly people’s – staged – intimacy is in a way an undeniable source of inspiration.
H.C : In 2013 you graduated with an MA in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art, London, having previously completed your DNSAD at École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. What was your experience of both UK and French arts education? What were the similarities, and how did they differ?
M.J : I had a great time in both institutions, mainly through the meeting of like-minded groups of peers and super talented individuals. French and English educations felt wildly different, however. I felt much more positivity oozing in London, the encouragement to become an autonomous artist and the possibility to make a living from it, however tough that would certainly be. The future felt more competitive and pessimistic whilst in France. This said, I was also younger and possibly less confident at the time. Such broad statements are tricky to enounce coming from a singular anyway. I’m just very grateful to have experienced both, had the opportunity to study, and to keep discovering new ways to think and navigate contemporary art since I left school.
H.C : Collaboration plays an important part in your artistic career, and you regularly work with both writers and poets to match the verbal and visual. How do you approach artistic collaboration? Does it allow yourself to view your work in a new perspective?
M.J : It definitely does allow me to look at my work from different angles and pushes me to explore realms I wouldn’t have on my own. Which is both good and challenging at times. I approach those collaborations with great eagerness and as empirically as the making of my work. It participates in the same process to me, finding tension in unexpected matches.
H.C : Having previously featured in the one night only Absinthe 2018 exhibition, what are you excited about for Absinthe 2019? Can you give us an insight into the work you’re producing for it?
M.J : Absinthe 2019 felt like an amazing blossoming from the Absinthe 2018 bud. I’m super excited to be included in this ambitious display and was so grateful to get to show one of my latest drawings, ‘The Sarcophagus Bed’, a dry pastel fantasy on Japanese paper, framed by Soft Baroque.