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.