Lili Reynaud-Dewar’s practice employs an appropriation of cultural signs, icons and emblems. These are often elements of esoteric underground cultures and distinct social groups whose symbols and rituals draw attention to their cultural Otherness. Reynaud-Dewar uses these to create cultural assimiliations amidst a piling of association upon association that often have both a strong aesthetic and radical sensibilities at their centre. Refering to aesthetic strategies and tactics that use allegorical figures to develop complex concepts, Reynaud-Dewar looks to the designs of Ettore Sotsass, Superstudio, the futuristic manifestos of Donna Haraway and the semi-fictional documentaries of Jean Rouch.
Merging performance, sculpture, text and collage, Reynaud-Dewar uses both generic forms and real cultural motifs to underline the creation of identity through staged artifice, whilst juxtaposing a collection of seperate but interlinked worlds. For her solo show at Mary Mary, Reynaud-Dewar has produced an installation based on the lost profession of shorthand-typists and the now obsolete ‘manual’ technology of stenography – in a sense producing the fragments of an anthropological documentary. Like much of her work, these new sculptural works and film installations focus on both female cliche and stereotype, and female emancipation.
Beginning from an interest in both entertainment and ritual and an exploration of forms and signs, Reynaud-Dewar’s works focus on an ambigious format of performance where people act as props – the artist meticulously controlling their bodies, speech, style and movement. Placed like objects they exist alongside props as sculpture and costume and vice versa, upon a stage set that further queries both authenticity and narrative. Indeed there is often no narrative in which to follow or become lost, but more an unfolding, camouflaging and layering of symbols that personify a particular gesture, character or stance.