HEIDI WOOD, La Maison de banlieue

Espace d’art contemporain Camille Lambert,


September 28 – October 26 2002


Isn’t it uncomfortable to realize that the concept you have built up of a percept is markedly different from what is unanimously agreed on the subject elsewhere? We have read that beyond the paintings, Heidi Wood’s works “propose desirable spaces” (Frank Lamy in the catalogue Quotidien Aidé (les locataires), Ecole supérieure des beaux-arts de Tours, 2001); that they “maliciously play with the status of art, magnifying the conditions of their presentation to make them more attractive” (Fabienne Fulchéri, le journal des arts n° 135, 2001); that they “remind us of forms that are strangely familiar” (Fabienne Fulchéri again in Technikart, November 1999); that they are “halfway between abstract painting and decorative painting” (Emmanuelle Bine in Oraos artmag)…


In the catalogue of the current exhibition entitled la Maison de banlieue (The House in the Suburbs), Suzie Attiwell pertinently touches on the question of the relation of Heidi Wood’s work to the image. It is indeed true that the finality of some of her latest Serving Suggestions has been photographic. It is true that the application of colored materials beyond the polyptych paintings (paint directly on the wall, carpet or linoleum on the floor) functions like a frame of uncertain edges in the exhibition space, or a wide angle. It is true that, without any particular shiny, transparent or painterly quality Heidi Wood’s dry, mat compositions of planes, which make us forget their physicality to function indifferently as dense chromatic projections on the walls and paintings (on smooth or textured canvas), can be taken for images emitted and received ephemerally, for as long as the exhibition visit lasts, or potentially perpetuated by photography.


Clearly reactive to the spatial context of the exhibition space, these images are from elsewhere and are headed elsewhere. The speed of execution in situ (wall paintings, hanging of polyptychs, installation of lino, etc.) indicates that the images are just passing through. “Desirable”, “seductive”, “familiar”, these images are also so invasive and swift that they sidestep apprehension and place the spectator before a profound frustration. Even better, they become terrifying. We would not go so far as to envisage them as generators of the Freudian “disturbing strangeness”. While the forms and colors that make up Wood’s works do resonate as if they were “long known, long familiar”, the terror they can produce is not necessarily due to the process of repression. Yet spending time with them indeed generates a strong sense of “déjà-vu” which bounces around horribly in the inability to determine when, where and how. Works by Heidi Wood are dizzying because, in the protective context of the exhibition space and beyond their reassuring domestic references, they throw back at us the painful experience of the modern inability to apprehend a world that has become image.


Alexandre Bohn

Art Press n° 285

December 2002

Translated from French

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