Può la fotografia diventare scultura? – Intervista ad Alix Marie
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You are a very young artist, you were born in France in 1989. Tell me about your artistic life.

I was indeed born and raised in Paris. At 14 I started going to a life modelling clay class thanks to my godmother Florence Thomassin who is an amazing ceramics artist and that’s maybe where it all started, the interest in bodies, touch, sculpture etc. Both my parents work in film and from there I probably took my interest in photography. When I was 17 years old I moved to London and studied there, first at Central Saint Martins for Foundation and BA in Fine Arts and then a Masters in Fine Art photography at the Royal College Of Art.

Your artistic process is very personal. It is a continuous mixing of photography and sculpture. How did this connection happen?
It is during my two years at the Royal College that I started really exploring and developing my interest and practice of ‘expanded photography’ or how to explore the photograph as object and its potential for three dimension. Since my BA I have been trying to mix both my interests in sculpture; the relationship with touch and materials and seeing, with photography. This brought me to study the relationship between the two practices of sculpture and photography through the concept of indexicality and casting, both in sculpture through casting bodies and in photography which is known as casting with light. Both are imprints or traces of a unique moment and time.

Can you tell me about your creative process? How do you work? What comes first, the photo or the idea?
I get an idea, which I photograph, which I then print onto various materials (plastic, fabric, glass…), make a sculpture out of it, then I re-photograph it etc etc. The photography and the sculpture always feed each other and sometimes it can seem like a never ending process. But that’s what I like about it, exploring and exhausting possibilities, constantly pushing the process until you feel it’s right. For an exhibition, I always take in consideration the space, the city, the architecture, so it influences the shape of the work. But it does not mean that it won’t be digested again and change from sculpture to a photograph of a sculpture for something different. It really is a practice, an ongoing process. It is part of my interest for the photographic image: its infinite possibilities in shape shifting and form whether it is online, in the street, in a book, in a frame etc.

You are teased by the similarities between skin and the photographic print. Could you explain this concept?
When I started my MA in photography at the Royal College Of Arts, I came from a general fine arts background and photographers suddenly surrounded me. My way of working had always been messy and I was struck with the clinical aspect of photography, with the use of the lab, scalpel, gloves, etc. The precautions around the photographic print reminded me of surgery, and I started thinking of the print and skin in parallel: both surfaces, both sacred. What does it do to manipulate, touch, cut through a print of the body? How to think of the representation of the body and the body of the photograph itself?

Who are your models?
I mainly work with people who are part of my intimate circle, friends, family, lovers. 
At first of course it was for convenience but then it developed as part of the work. The intimacy linked to a photo shoot or a casting session, the trust, the inspiration, the shifts in power, all of the relationships feed the work.

Myths have influenced your works. What are you most inspired by?
Mythology in its broadest sense (Greco-Roman mythology but also the myths we create in our lives) is an inspiration. But I suppose what I am interested in the most is the way we inhabit, live, represent and perceive our bodies. Through art, medicine, politics, to me the body is at the center of my research.

In La Femme Fontaine you are the sculptor and the sculpture, the object and the subject. What are your intents? Is your art an autobiographic and self-referential expression or do you want to transmit a message, do you want to provoke a reaction in spectators?
I have always been interested in the highly patriarchal myth of Pygmalion, and as a child I thought that I wanted to be the three of them: the muse, the artist and the sculpture, all at once and all female. So La Femme Fontaine was a bit of a play on that. My work has some autobiographical aspects yes, but I always try to make sure that it is not just that, that it has the potential to reach through other people’s experience. My intention is not to provoke for the sake of provocation and I don’t think the work is particularly shocking, but of course it is always a matter of perception. I suppose it is not so much transmitting a message but about provoking a shared experience. Yes, I enjoy when people are touched by the work, if they react, whatever the reaction and don’t stay indifferent, it would be a lie to say otherwise.

In La Femme Fontaine and in Orlando installation you used different materials, but body is always the key. Tell me about these different choices. Is there a link between them?
Orlando was really looking at the photographic medium and how to represent intimacy. 
In that work I tried to play with the three dimensional potential of photography, the idea of portraiture, of monumentality, of sculpture itself. La Femme Fontaine, because of the work being commissioned in Rome, was using a material discovered during the Roman Empire: concrete, and looking at the body more specifically through Antique sculptures and mythology.

Many aspects of your work are autobiographic. Do you think you can transfer your experiences from particular to universal? Do you think the visitor could identify himself with your artworks?
To me, when a piece is successful is when it mixes different ideas and works on different levels. So in my work it often takes from my life as well as artistic concerns as well as site-specificity as well as myths and stories etc… I think this is where it shifts from personal to universal. It can reference something about the theory of photography that a photographer will recognize at the same time than talking about heartbreak, which is something most people will recognize. I do hope for some visitors to feel something when being confronted with the work, but I wouldn’t go as far as call it identification.

Do you have any new projects in your mind?
I am exhibiting new work until the end of May at Roman Road gallery in London and will be preparing a new solo show as part of the Portfolio Review prize I won for Dusseldorf’s photo weekend in February 2018.

Finally, could photography become sculpture?
Well, I think more and more contemporary photographers are exploring possibilities, which is of course helped by advances in technology. The critic Lucy Soutter talks about this in terms of ‘expanded photography’ and is researching the subject. But to me, there will always be sculptors who only sculpt and photographers who only photograph, and I think that is important. The point is not to mishmash everything and loose the knowledge or technique of specific mediums. You have to take it project by project, practice by practice

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