Eva Medin is a visual artist and video maker. She takes an interest in different mediums, creating ethereal worlds that stand out through work on sound, light and spatiality. She is exhibiting Le Monde après la Pluie (2020) (The World after the Rain) at CHRONIQUES, the Biennale of Digital Imagination.
You graduated from the Pavillon Bosio (École supérieure des arts plastiques de Monaco – Visual Arts School of Higher Learning) and the Paris École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs art and design school, and you have an artistic approach that includes immersive installations, performances, sculptures and videos. Can you tell us about your journey.
While I was studying at the Beaux-Arts school in Monaco from 2007 to 2011, I developed an artistic vocabulary relating to the body, light, temporality of a theatre stage. At the École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Paris from 2011 to 2013, during my scenography specialisation, I explored the videographic art I use today. My sensitivity for immersive installations is related to my relationship with both theatre and video. I mainly work in situ by considering the light, space, how visitors move around and the relationship with temporality. I look to create installations that can be shared intuitively, conveyed through mediation of all the senses and which involve the viewers’ bodies in their understanding of the works.
You were born and grew up in Brazil. Your father managed a café-theatre which presented mimes’ shows. How did your family environment inspire your work?
A link can be made between my work and the mimes’ shows of my childhood. I’m really interested in mimes because they create a relationship with the body, non-verbal communication. A mime’s particularity is to embody characters to talk about subjects that have a universal, immediate and accessible reach. How physical posture is expressed creates interindividual communication, and great capacity of subversion.
Also, my mother’s profession is restoring arts objects. I do not feel fully at lengths from this idea of repairing: I think that art can have immense power to repair. It brings a new understanding of the world and can contribute to my direction and to deconstruct the prevailing story (like that of capitalism advocating progress and competition) and to open new fairer and more enviable perspectives for humanity.
Science fiction is a recurrent genre in your works, as much in the vocabulary employed as in the aesthetics. You create futuristic worlds which question the survival of the human race like in Storm Station in 2018. How does science fiction influence your work? What messages to you want to convey in your works?
I’m interested in science-fiction as an intrinsically political genre that has the ability to raise ecological, societal, anthropological problems… It allows a critical reading of our time through fiction. Futuristic stories extrapolate the trends of the present by exaggerating to show the drifts.
In Storm Station, presented during the Nuits Blanches (all-night multi-site art exhibition in Paris) in 2018, I staged a sky and sea explorer in order to question this figure and move away from the symbol of conqueror. Instead of showing a man in control, power, progress, I looked to show a body that is entirely in weakness and inaction.
This allows me to create a new story based on empathy, to question the issues of our how our societies are developing and the both beautiful and absurd ambiguity of our condition: our infinite desire for a conquest and how immensely fragile we are.
You are exhibiting your work Le Monde après la Pluie (2020) (The World after the Rain) at CHRONIQUES, the Digital Imagination Biennale. What can you tell us about this installation: what does it say?
It’s a choreographic fable. It is made up of a video and a series of sculptures that talk about metamorphosis and mutation. This work is inspired by Philippe Curval’s book Le Monde après la Pluie (1997) and a painting Europe after the rain (1942) by Max Ernst. The book gives a fairly prophetic vision of what we have experienced this year: it talks of a Europe completely locked down, withdrawn, where a minority of people live in an air-conditioned world and where the rest of the world, considered to be immigrants, live in the heat. This work was the starting point for my reflection because it offers an alternative to this unequal world and shows the possibility of a resurgence.
In this work, you bring together scenography, film production and social science literature. How do these three disciplines go together?
The notion of hybridisation is at the heart of the film. It is also present in the language I develop and in the work procedures I like exploring. In this film it’s a question of a changing state found in a dancer’s body but also in the sculptures found along the way, with sets of permanent resonances.
In concrete terms it’s a system that’s pretty minimalist that recalls the theatre stage: you see a body in a costume filmed on a black background. All of the video is based on the relationship between the choreographic movements, the how the costume changes and the noises that they make. The aesthetics evoke certain 1980s’ science fiction films, like The Fly by David Cronenberg which is part of my inspirations. But it also refers to fantasy film like Beauty and the Beast by Cocteau or The Wizard of Oz.
“How can fiction enable us to reclaim our future?” This question is at the heart of your work. To what extent do your works answer this issue?
We are living in a world where imaginations are being closed off. Creating contemporary fables and myths is seeking to reinvent what’s real. Futuristic stories are thereby an active pessimism: they open possibilities.
In the narrative forms I offer, I promote ambiguity, hybridisation, and seek to leave as much as possible open to interpretation and the viewer’s free will.
I believe a lot in the ability of stories to enable us to regain our future and more than anything imagine its possibilities. I also have the feeling that stories enable a connection to be created between individuals and the world, between individuals themselves.
What projects do you have coming up?
I’ve just been awarded the Palais de Tokyo Prix des Amis for 2020, and thanks to this prize I’m preparing a personal exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo for 2021.
In addition, if the situation allows me to, I’ll be doing a residency in Scotland to work on a docudrama I want to film at the Faslane Peace Camp: one of the oldest peace camps in the world. A dozen or so activists at this site lead a combat against the nuclear sub-marine base in Faslane Bay. I feel that this place and the combat of these people, like the future development zones, have answers to contribute to how the world of tomorrow is put together.
With Le Monde après la Pluie (2020), Eva Medin was programmed as part of Chroniques, the Biennale of Digital Imagination (from 12 November 2020 to 17 January 2021). The Institut français is a partner of Chroniques with the Focus digital arts and creations.
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