Forêt Intérieure / Interior Forest

Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest is a dual-venue exhibition and publication by Los Angeles-based artist Alexandra Grant in collaboration with Paris-based writer Hélène Cixous. This multi-dimensional project, which includes a residency component and contributions by both Los Angeles-based and Paris-based artists, is presented at both 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, CA and at Mains d’Oeuvres in Saint-Ouen, France.

Several years ago, the iconic French author, poet, playwright and philosopher Hélène Cixous gave Grant one of her books, Philippines, as a source for imagery and entreated the artist to make work about the concepts present in the text. Philippines is based around the story of Peter Ibbetson, a novel by Georges du Maurier, where two childhood friends are separated by class and country and reunite as adults in their shared dream-life. The themes of Philippines are often paired: dreaming and reality; telepathy and empathy; the “perfect other;” the shape of two nuts found in a single mandorla or almond (known as a Philippine); and relationships between north and south, man and woman, colony and colonizer, and adult and child.

Grant’s response to Cixous and Philippines is the project Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest centering on the image of a forest as a representation of both the shared imagination and a place for congregation and collaboration. Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest includes a large-scale installation of a forest and a collaborative drawing that invites community participation. Trees in the interior forest will be made of both text and textiles. The drawing, functioning both as an illustration and a text scroll, represents a visual narrative of Philippines. Created by Grant in conjunction with other artists and members of the public, the process of working jointly invites contemplation of Cixous’s concepts and develops a platform for shared imagining. The two iterations of the installation in both Santa Monica and Saint Ouen function as mirror images, or twin versions of the same whole.

Pilar Tompkins Rivas, Curator and Director or Residency Programs at 18th Street Arts Center, and Isabelle Le Normand, Curator of Visual Arts at Mains d’Oeuvres, are co-organizers of this project.