Personnifier les masques by Alice Jouan

As part of her final examination at the HEAR in Strasbourg, Alice Jouan presented her project Personnifier les masques (editor’s note: Personifying masks), an installation combining object, vocal and visual performance. Her work tends to question the norm through dissonance, to summon the appearance of anomaly and to raise the disturbance.

Could you tell us more about your work as an artist?
I seek to blend the practice of the researcher with that of the artist. These investigations breathe possibilities into the deployment of invention: looking behind the scenes of reality, shifting our gaze, inventing new common narratives through the expression of each of our individualities. In this approach, I try to desacralize artistic techniques through spontaneity, the quest for chance and interaction with the produced tools. It is a way of testing one’s body in the plastic experimentation and its staging. Fiction opens up the field of unusual, absurd and intuitive narratives: divergent paths are cultivated, as are unexpected and accidental forms. I have just completed the CFPI (Centre des Plasticiens Intervenants) training in Strasbourg in May 2022. This training has reinforced my quest for social transformation through plastic intervention.

Révélateur à poils, assemblage de matériaux recyclés/récupération : toiles, laines, fils, cartons…, 30 x 25 cm, 2021

How did your project Personnifier les masques come about?
I felt a strong need to manipulate the fabrics during the first lockdown in March 2020 (editor’s note: in France), an energy in the threads, in the hands that build and assemble. I pierced, tore, embroidered, sewed, words became needles, pulsations became knots.

These manipulations became a daily ritual, every day from morning to night, I constructed a mask with what passed between my fingers. The bits of sheets, the strings of pearls, the damaged cardboard boxes ended up looking like faces, an incarnation, of the living. The living captured in the threads, I felt as if I were knotting my thoughts in the gestures. I imagined voices, a collective song, a story to be counted, gathering all these faces.

How do the different mediums come into play in your practice and how do you choose to develop this or that practice?
It’s very intuitive, damaged, and broken objects attract my fingers.
I use a lot of recycled materials; I assemble them to build symbolic objects. In this assembly process, the objects seem to come alive and become “magical”. I invent their stories, I give them voices, I look for their dissonances and each of their singularities. It is in their embodiment that confusion is cultivated, the body and the senses activated. I also invest in staging, to materialise the stories. I play with ambiguity in the use of finery that both reveals and conceals. I made photomontages from these masks. I found these photos in my grandmother’s old albums. I transformed reality by freezing the disorder in the image: what is revealed, what is hidden?

How would you define a parade?
In the parade, there is something about chaos, a reversal of the world, something communal and powerful. When thinking about it, I feel vibrations everywhere. I listen to the voices that confront each other, get tangled up and pulsate. I dress the bodies in sequins, flying and floating over the dancing bodies. The procession of our free, transgressive, strong, and united expressions.

Compteuse royale, assemblage de matériaux recyclés/récupération : cuir, tissus, cartons, toiles, sequins…, 25 x 25 cm, 2021
Songeur nocturne, assemblage de matériaux recyclés/récupération : bois, tissus, toiles, fils, perles…20 x 15 cm, 2021


Texte diffusé dans l’espace auprès d’une scénographie particulière, de grands posters des masques en noir et blanc flottaient dans l’espace, disposés en ronde.

Alice Juan insta: @alice_jouan

Images © Alice Jouan