Fri 24 Mar 2023 to Sat 29 Apr 2023
6 Heddon Street, W1B 4BT Mai-Thu Perret: Do not think at all about good and bad
Tue-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 11am-6pm
Artist: Mai-Thu Perret
Pippy Houldsworth Gallery presents Do not think at all about good and bad, a new ceramic sculpture comprising twelve scattered apples, by Swiss artist Mai-Thu Perret in The Box, the gallery’s micro project space.
Do not think at all about good and bad forms part of Perret’s research into the treatment of women, in this instance through a lens of witchcraft. In Marxist and feminist historian Sylvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch, she argues that the demonisation of the witch figure in society emerged during the transition from feudalism to capitalism; witch hunts were used to systemically oppress self-sufficient women who presented a barrier to the destruction of the commons, and to discipline the peasantry into a subservient work force in service to the new capitalist system. Perret conjures the witch as both a historical figure and an archetype of the noncompliant woman whose perceived threat to fertility and patriarchy remains a constant in our collective unconscious, whether in children’s fairy tales or cinema. Apple imagery is recurrent throughout Perret’s recent practice, referencing both Eve’s consumption of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden and the poisoned apple in Snow White.
Known for her multi-disciplinary practice that engages installation, performance, sculpture, ceramics and textiles, Perret derives inspiration from a range of twentieth-century avant-garde and radical art movements, including Dada, Constructivism and Bauhaus design. Perret has consistently adopted anti-capitalist ideologies and visions of a utopian socialist future in her work. The Crystal Frontier, a fictional women-only commune, was first conceived of by the artist in 1999. This body of work explored the lives of an autonomous community who abandoned Western neoliberal society for the remote desert of Southwestern New Mexico, envisaged by the artist as a refuge from the ills of capitalism and patriarchal convention. Similarly to the inhabitants of New Ponderosa whose systems and rituals oppose the diminution of the role of women in capitalist society, the figure of the witch embodies female empowerment; in both instances independent living and a wish for freedom from social expectations risks exclusion.
Mai-Thu Perret was born in 1976 in Geneva, Switzerland, where she lives and works. She studied at Cambridge University and the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York. In 2018 she was the recipient of the Paul Boesch Art Prize, Bern Switzerland. Recent solo exhibitions include Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman, Innsbruck (2022); Insituto Svizzero, Rome (2022); Centre D’Edition Contemporaine, Geneva (2022); Le Portique – Centre Régional d’Art Contemporain du Havre, Le Havre (2020); Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2019); Spike Island, Bristol (2019); MAMCO, Geneva (2018, 2011); Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2016); Kunsthaus Aarau (2011); Le Magasin, Grenoble (2011) and The Renaissance Society, Chicago (2006). In 2011 she took part in ILLUMInations at the 54th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, curated by Bice Curiger. Her work is housed in major international collections including Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht; Kunsthaus Zürich; Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles; Rubell Family Collection, Miami and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.