Claire Morgan: A tentative strategy for a renewal, or, wanting to tell you everything and then changing my mind
Galerie Karsten Greve Paris
Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 7 pm
Extended through January 15, 2022
on Saturday, October 16 from 5 - 8 pm
In presence of the artist.
Exhibition tour © Nikolai Saoulski
A tentative strategy for a renewal, or, wanting to tell you everything and then changing my mind reflects on the pain and inevitability of loss, but celebrates the powerful transformative potential that arises from the ashes of devastation. Morgan’s work draws on the cycles in nature to evoke the possibilities that can only occur when we make peace with our own vulnerability:
“My practice has been focused on how we humans understand and interact with the rest of the natural world, and our unwillingness to acknowledge our absolute lack of autonomy or control. I look at humans as animals, and the complexity of our intellectual dislocation from the landscape that sustains us. We behave as individual entities with fixed identities, but the reality is less clear. The “me” that I was a few days ago no longer exists.”
Morgan studies the catharsis that can occur when we express our fears and our darkest secrets. For the very first time in her work, the artist has replaced taxidermic animals with their skins. Her transition to the use of tanning reflects the need to discover a truth and exorcise her most deeply rooted fears. This practice goes back to prehistory, when animal skins were essential to humans’ survival. In the Victorian era, the activity took on a new meaning to reflect the hold of colonialism and the importance of notions of class and property: animal skins became trophies of excess. The supple skins, stripped from their bony carcasses, look like strange, empty envelopes. The artist associates this complex process with the need to spark a psychological and personal quest: “When you remove an animal’s skin for taxidermy, the gums are the last point where it remains attached. To see a body turned inside out like that, with the whole skin still attached by the teeth, it’s something that does not leave your memory”.
To compose her ecosystem, Claire Morgan plays with contrast on several levels. In Mourning for real (2021), the polyethylene is sublimated through a colourful harmony, but does not, however, lose its parasitic function, as it erupts from the bird’s skin. The union between animals and plastic refers to mass extinction and the climate crisis. On the other hand, some organic elements, such as seeds, form elegant shapes around animals and hint at the passing of time. The artist thus composes an ode to nature through her interconnected works and various forms of materiality.
On the boundary between violence and vulnerability, notions of balance and tension underpin the whole of the exhibition. Claire Morgan addresses the past and archaic memory through a horn shape, used for the first time and revealed throughout the exhibition in different sizes and through different techniques. In the monumental installation A tentative strategy for a renewal, or, wanting to tell you everything and then changing my mind (2021), the larger‑than‑life horn cannot belong to any existing animal – it could be a mysterious relic of the past. The horn appears to be weighed down by a mass of weightless seeds, its point pressing into the mass as if it were flesh. “It's an inherently violent form, but don't forget that it has no body, that it's been broken and is now precariously balanced on its breaking point at the end. So it becomes this thing that seems both seductive and powerless”, Morgan said of this work.
These installations discourse with Archaeology (2020‑2021), a series of charcoal drawings. The artist introduces a human figure who interacts with a horn, straddling it, gripping onto it and exploring it in repeated attempts to master the unknown form, like a child learning to gather its bearings in a new world. If both entities coexisted, could they mutually support each other? The intimacy between the horn and the figure reveals a new direction in Claire Morgan’s work, closer to humans and their passions. To create this series, the artist draws on her personal experience of loss, trauma and pain, and shares her own secrets with viewers.
The suspended installations and works on paper illustrate a constant opposition between movement and immobility. This tension incites us to make our own choice: to stay in the past or to move forward. Claire Morgan would like everyone to consider the possibilities that can present themselves “about things that might have happened, or things that could still happen”.