A POSSIBLE SIDE DISH
In Serving Suggestions, the picture is reduced to simply one element of a whole. This "reducing" operation does not refer to the word’s negative aspect but rather corresponds to its culinary slant. To thicken by evaporation.
Painted in its own right, the picture is then integrated into a decor. An environment is built to receive it. It is then that the real staging begins. A situation constructed.
Dissimilar elements put together: pictures, furniture, wallpaper, linoleum, carpet, plants, accessories... following a modular logic (combinations, repetitions, rearrangements...), produce "images".
At the exhibition Quotidien aidé (LES LOCATAIRES), (where these Serving Suggestions were first publicly shown), Heidi Wood "occupied" the reception area, thus associating different problematics: conceived for this particular site, her work offered a usable and used space as well as an image since the whole was constructed according to one viewpoint, playing with mass, form and colour. The multiple ramifications of this then budding project were already visible: attention to decor, function, image, advertising.
These Serving Suggestions are half way between reconstructions/propositions for interiors and displays in furniture shops or sales catalogues. It is here that the question of art consumption arises. The displays in fact propose spaces to be desired, spaces one can identify with, that call out, intended to incite the consumer to buy.
Although realistic or credible, the spaces conceived are genuinely fabricated. Artificial. The ones that interest me most are those that are slightly off-track. Those that warn us they are fakes through little differences. Those that evoke usability but where the furniture, a little too well arranged, poses. Those prey to optical distortions, where the perspective is pronounced. Those that suggest nonsensical pictures from some interior decoration magazine. Here the picture is too close to the wall, there it is too close to the table. In another, the wallpaper stops abruptly, covering only part of the wall. In one, the combination of modules defies all common sense. They are detrimental to the effectiveness one expects from a communication and advertising perspective. Like slight glitches in a show.
These internal failings cannot be seen. They eat away at the transparency of the images.
Produced as they are today, naturally there are exchanges between these and other contemporary images. I am thinking in particular and Heidi Wood totally defends this stance of fashion and interior decoration photographs. In short, of the come-back made these past years in our visual field by forms from the sixties and seventies. We are witnessing a brief alignment of a pictorial universe (the aesthetics developed by Heidi Wood for several years now) and a mass movement, social, ephemeral, a fad (all glitter, money, consumption). The pictorial research behind this encounter is part of a wider context than the simple History of painting. Or rather the experience is seen as enclosed by, connected with the world.
Recourse to these aesthetics goes beyond present circumstances. They belong to a bygone era, a reminder of triumphant modernism, of optimistic consumption. Which, even at the time, reused and bastardised the avant-garde’s formal research.
Heidi Wood, in her own way, is questioning the historical dialogue between geometrical abstraction and decorative arts (a dialogue that, from Mondrian to Vasarely, has known many incarnations), but this time it is devoid of all utopian implications, of all projects for social revolution. Modernism’s forms, today exhausted, are questioned from a domestic point of view. What can be done with this history?
Translated from French by Gabrielle Lawrence