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Adeline de Monseignat / Art Against Knives

We speak to the artist about her participation at the Boxpark expo and her signature play on attraction and repulsion

For the past years, the Dutch-Monegasque artist Adeline de Monseignat has been producing weird, odd, uncanny things that dwell somewhere in an equally strange limbo between object, creature and human. Specialized in sculpture and installation but also dabbling in painting and drawing, Monseignat has completed an Art Foundation degree at the Slade, a BA in Language and Culture at UCL and an MA in Fine arts at the City & Guilds of London Art School and is now part of the Catlin Guide 2012. Her organic creations, inspired by surrealism, Meret Oppenheim and Louise Bourgeois, are a hunt for the perfect defect and a tantalizing play on sensuality and the fear of the unknown. Paint sandwiches, oozing ink blotches, coffins full of eggshells, furry glass eyeballs, breathing fur balls and the exposed wombs of walls co-exist in a tactile, gravity-defying world that is visually illusionary and invites you to touch.

But even though her approach is playful, it’s the latent darkness, a fine line between alive and dead and that slow creeping breath within her eerie work that disconcerts and teases the viewer’s senses. Why then, was she selected to participate in the new expo by Art Against Knives, a charity that works to reduce the root causes of knife crime through art initiatives, if the message aims to be positive and uplifting? As we discover, it’s a matter of new beginnings…

Dazed Digital: Your work tends to focus around the themes of sensuality and sexuality, where did this fascination come from and what was the last thing you've discovered/learnt from exploring such subjects?
Adeline de Monseignat: Even though my recent work still has a strong sense of sensuality especially within the materials I use (tactile fur, sometimes soft sand, delicate ink etc). I am interested in the audience's experience when interacting with my work, and how materials offer a platform to subvert the familiar.  Even if we know the materials involved, they sometimes act in a subtle unusual way (fur squeezed against glass, ink leaving traces of an upward movement).  They are meant to evoke something different to everyone.  Often people feel ill-at-ease or are even unsure of how they feel in presence of my work because I also like to play with that tension of attraction-repulsion.  I usually work on 3D pieces (sculptures or installations) but the drawing I gave to AAK is part of large series of ink drawings where the ink implies life through traces suggestive of motion, the way the fur does in my most recent kinetic sculptures which seem to be breathing thanks to motors inserted inside the abdomen of the sculptures.

DD: How have you attempted to interpret the ideals of the project with your involvement?
Adeline de Monseignat: 
I thought it would fit well the brief of a new life, new beginning..

DD: What's behind the story of the name for the work 'Drop in the Ocean'?
Adeline de Monseignat: I entitled it 'Drop in the Ocean' because even though my contribution will be minute I still believe every drop counts.  I also liked the reference to water which is the main medium required for the ink to act that way and is also the number 1 element required for life to appear.
Helping AAK was something dear to my heart as my friend Marinette Kaus was recently the witness of an unprovoked and violent stabbing in the streets of London only one week before I had received an email from my friend Alix Janta (Art Barter curator) telling me about AAK.  The timing for me to get involved was uncanny.

DD: What's next?
Adeline de Monseignat: I'm currently making new work to be included in a show at the Crypt Gallery called 'And you what do you worship?' who was initiated and curated by Marinette Kaus (who will also be exhibiting both in that show and for AAK's 'New Beginnings' as she also works as an artist).  The title of the show was inspired by the late David Foster Wallace's speech.

I'm also working towards making larger scale sculptures for various shows, art fairs and projects.  One worth mentioning is my recent inclusion in the Catlin Guide 2012 which is currently enabling me to meet a large amount of people (artists, curators, galleries from all over the world) and create interesting exchanges.  Tons of food for thought for the future...

Adeline de Monseignat will be showing at the 'New Beginnings' group show, until 29th February at Art Against Knives Gallery, Boxpark Unit 55, London E1 6JJ