La banquise

© La banquise, la forêt et les étoiles, La Centrale, Bruxelles, 2019. Photo: Lydie Nesvadba

La banquise (2019) is an immersive installation consisting of 34 elements of varying dimensions made from polyether foam. The shapes range up to more than a metre in height or width. They are made using scraps of material recovered by the artist from a mattress factory at the end of 2018. Some are reworked and cut with sanding wire. The elements are then rearranged and assembled to obtain the desired volume. Once defined, the shape is covered with a thick layer of pink coating. While the title suggests a landscape of polar expanses, the specific characteristics of such an environment are erased. The ice field is reduced to blocks in which alternating colours recreate gradations of light—using the same process present in the series of yellow and pink collages entitled Cotton Candy Landscapes (2018). Here, several colours are used to simulate the reflection of light on ice and its different shades of pink, from cool and pale to soft and powdery.

The elements are placed on the floor with no strict protocol, thus dominating the exhibition space. They act as icebergs that look like marshmallows or giant "Barbapapas" on which the public can sit or lie down. Thus, instead of being confronted with a landscape made of hard and cold blocks of ice, the visitor is welcomed by soft and comfortable forms. This experience evokes the artist’s childhood memory, a reminiscence of warm summers spent in Sweden with her mother, lying on the moss-covered rocks by the sea. According to the artist, the installation is the materialisation of this mental postcard, tinged with the salty scent of sun cream. The title La banquise paradoxically contrasts the notion of cold with these remembered Swedish summers to evoke the melting of the ice caps. The current climatic context is inextricably linked to the reading of the work.