Zoe Williams at Antoine Levi


Artist: Zoe Williams

Exhibition title: Pel

Venue: Antoine Levi, Paris, France

Date: December 10, 2015 – January 21, 2016

Photography: images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Antoine Levi

Pel (taken from the Old French diminutive for skin) creates a space where interior and exterior bleed into one another  and  where  the  realms  of  fantasy  and subjective experience  are  brought  to  the  fore.  The  use  of  double entendres  and  a  play  with  loaded,  yet  seemingly  ambiguous  imagery  have  long  been  important  parts  of  Zoe Williams’s  practice  and  through  her  new  solo  installation  she  utilises  this  approach  to  confuse  and  assimilate relations between the surfaces and entities that she references such as skin and fur, cream and bodily excretions, gems and genitalia.

The gallery has been transformed into a space to simultaneously watch and inhabit her new moving image work and  commissioned  soundtrack,  also  titled  ‘Pel’.  This  piece  is  intended  to  function  as  a  texture  of  sensual experience, conveying both eroticism and a lingering hint of anxiety or nausea, evoking the paranoid eye of a late night encounter or the fitful scanning of  unobtainable items in a jewellery store window. Williams is fascinated with  the  intimacy  that  is  created  through  a  macro  view  of  delicate  and  precious  things;  gems,  tiny  artefacts, intensive details of surfaces are all trans figured through the use of the macro lens endlessly scanning, probing and enlarging their matter. The viewers are invited to watch the film amongst a collation of furs and golden cigarette butts which embellish and bejewel a dusk blue carpet accompanied by a heady mix of strong perfume, cognac and slowly souring cream. The installation, moving image, photo and object based work all engage with the artist’s interest  in the creation of objects and spaces which ‘perform’,  in turn implicating the viewer  in their sensorial dialogue

The  politics  of  sex  is  central  Zoe  Williams’  practice.  Her  works  touch  on  ideas  of  seduction,  sensuality  and transgression. These are key aspects of ‘Pel’, where the body and surface are manipulated and confused through their depiction at close quarters in order to create a mergence or cross contamination between silk, skin, fur and precious gems. With this piece Williams is interested in building a subtly irreverent dialogue and tension between such  polarities  as  the  animate  and  the  inanimate,  the  seductive  and  the  repulsive,  as  well  as  examining contemporary  attitudes  towards  notions  of  taste,  sexuality  and  beauty.  ‘Pel’  is  therefore  meant  to  operate  as  a troubling texture of sensual experience, conveying a sensuality that is at once voluptuous and tinged with anxiety and a kind of sickness.

Pel is her second solo exhibition at Galerie Antoine Levi.