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.