Creating oblique relationships between her own personal history and cultural signifiers of both racial and political struggles and identity politics, Reynaud-Dewar draws from varied influences, from Rastafarianism to the work of Ettore Sotsass to the history of cinema. Her projects which include performance, installation, sculpture and photography, involve intense research and extend beyond the frame of autonomous, one time exhibitions. By making use of remote, sometimes antagonistic historical material, Reynaud Dewar’s work consistently questions the notion of origin, and the relationship between one’s identity and one’s work.
Usually working with a series of performers and members of her own family, for her show at Mary Mary, Reynaud-Dewar appears for the first time as the main focus in her work. Presented here are a number of short silent black and white video pieces which show the artist dancing in her studio, amongst her works, naked with her body blackened.
In these video works Reynaud-Dewar (who trained in her teenage years as a ballet dancer) re-interprets or mimics in a rather awkward manner, the choreography of Josephine Baker. Specifically Reynaud-Dewar has referenced the relationship between Baker and Le Corbusier whom it is said, blackened his body and dressed with feathers, that is to say that he dressed as Baker herself, as a ‘parade’ to seduce the seminal Afro-American star. Within her practice, Reynaud-Dewar often identifies with historical figures that have subverted the boundaries of cultural or racial labels and one can think here, that Reynaud-Dewar looks to mimic both Le Corbusier and Baker.
Subverting identities is a central point here, as is subverting the signifiers of whiteness and blackness, and in relation to this Reynaud-Dewar also presents a series of burnt plinths on which rest a selection of objects, ready made and crafted. Amongst them are plaster casts of raised fists, a series of small number sculptures covered with white fabric, a bathroom sink and a polystyrene bust of a female figure, amongst others. All of these objects are blackened with the same make-up used to cover Reynaud-Dewar in the videos.
This series of objects plays with the expected whiteness of certain materials: ceramic, plaster, polystyrene, and of certain exhibition ‘codes’ such as the plinth. As with much of Reynaud-Dewar’s work there is a strong link between the objects she presents and the body and it is important here that each object has been altered in some way by the artist’s hand and that they each relate through either their function or form to the body. Indeed, Reynaud-Dewar is choosing to objectify her own body within the video works.
The selection of objects also deals with an ambiguity between the domestic object and the artwork, the studio and the apartment, the gallery and the house. This blurring between domestic space and exhibition space, private and public is made even more present by the colourful curtains covering the windows of the gallery.