Isabelle CornaroIsabelle Cornaro

Golden Memories

2 - 31 July 2015

Isabelle Cornaro was born in Paris.
She currently lives and works in Paris and Zürich.


Part One: Pre-Installation Isabelle Cornaro’s studio, Paris. 27 May.

Alice Lee: In reference to your exhibits you often talk about ‘organising’ and ‘designing’ a space and the texts from your shows at The White Cube and LA><ART state that there is ‘an interplay between formal and conceptual modes of display’. Do you see the space as a kind of object?

Isabelle Cornaro: I see it both as an object and as a context, in particular for the series of installations Paysage avec poussin et témoins oculaires (for instance, at M-Museum in Leuven and South London Gallery). For the kind of installation we are going to do at OUTPOST it will be more like an object indeed, as the artwork will be constructed in the space and then will continuously evolve until the final work is completed.

AL: I’ve seen that your current work has running themes of landscape and perspective. What has influenced this?

IC: I have trained in art history - and my first practice was drawing - so making large installations with pedestals and standing walls is like drawing in the space; to use it as a blank sheet of paper in which things are composed relating it to landscape and perspective.

AL: You tend to create relationships between objects in space to produce narratives which is often synonymous with the role of a curator, particularly in regard to your process of arrangements and editing in your films. What are your thoughts about this?

IC: Well I think it’s a different kind of selection process than a curatorial one because both objects in the installations and imagery in the films are chosen for their historic charge or meaning; but also they are really patterns or shapes to organise together as an artwork layered by multiple details and aesthetics.

AL: You work in a variety of mediums, how do you decide which is appropriate to use or to explore at any particular time?

IC: I started with drawing and installation was an extension of drawing inside the space. Filming has always been a sort of parallel practice to installation and sculpture, organically linked to them. For instance, they are always the same kind of objects and compositions inside the installations and inside the films. I try to think how a work translated into another medium could somehow clarify the meaning of previous works; the wall spray paintings entitled Reproductions are very different from the large installations Paysages avec poussin et témoins oculaires, but they also built a discourse on the image, on the notions of composing and representing, on site or non-site specificity. I also think that each medium has its own significance. For me it’s important to deal with these multiple significances as a possibility to extend, transform and layer the aesthetic and the discourse of the works.

AL: Do you have a favourite?

IC: Film is the medium in which I feel the most comfortable somehow.

AL: What do you hope to explore with this work at OUTPOST?

IC: I would like to try to work on the decomposition of the image and on the exhibition space as a sculptural object, to do something that is about inform, shapeless and entropy - which is something I already experimented in my last films Amplifications and Choses but never really did with installations.


Part Two: Post-Installation OUTPOST Gallery, Norwich. 1 July.

AL: For me it has been very interesting to watch this work be fully constructed and then gradually deconstructed to produce the final outcome. There is a lot of focus on the extraneous material, the paint dust and protective plastic. Why is this so appealing to you?

IC: I wanted to focus on the elements that are supposed to be shapeless and that are usually the rejects of the works. I like the idea of creating subjectivity, forms and, hopefully, meaning using elements that come out of randomness.

AL: When we spoke in Paris, you mentioned that it was important to deal with the significance of different elements in a site-specific work, for example site architecture and painting. This installation at OUTPOST certainly presented you a conundrum to resolve! Could you describe your thought process?

IC: It did indeed! The most interesting thing is to try creating a direct and complex meaning at the same time, with very simple elements. When I arrived the space was entirely covered with plastics from floor to ceiling including partition ‘walls’. The question was whether to leave it as it was or to transform it, which would imply having to compose something. I decided to take away the partition ‘walls’, part of the floor and then the ceiling so that there were no more architectural forms and left only a ‘frise’ of paintings along the walls, surrounding the space. It has been like a film editing process in choosing to remove parts of this large continuous painting, a sort of ‘bout- á- bout’, in order to keep only fragments that construct another narrative that is much more abstract.

AL: Is it similar to anything you’ve done before?

IC: It is similar to some gestures I have used in previous films, when organizing a rhythmic narrative with left over rushes; in both cases, the subjectivity constructed out of randomness interests me and informs my work.

AL: How have you achieved the ‘inform, shapeless and entropy’, that you have previously experimented with in film, for example in Choses, with this installation?

IC: The elements that are used in this painting installation, such as the falling powdery plastics from the walls and the large ‘carpet’ which is a folded version of the working floor, indeed come from a random process. Being the leftovers of the working process, they have in that sense an inform and shapeless quality. But as they remain as organized fragments, they construct the space in a minimal way whilst maintaining a narrative; specifically the fragment of a frame which remains on one of the falling plastics that points to the idea of framing and representing.


Isabelle Cornaro


Isabelle Cornaro


Isabelle Cornaro