Parisian artist Antoine Renard describes his works as “process more than product”. He’s been settled in Berlin for four years and from his Neukölln studio his research-based work investigates “the relation between spaces, bodies and images”. The results of these explorations range from wrapping flesh around a florescent tube, to skydiving with meat, and scanning his bathroom. He explains that he’s interested in channelling a kind of low-fi biomechanics. “Science, engineering, biology and new media shape and transform our perception of the mechanics of the world. I want to understand those changes with my hands.”
In “Topological Bath” at Projektraum this spring, Renard reconstructed the environment of his bathroom, unpacking the marketing rubric used for selling domestic interiors and isolating attributes like “spirit” and “purity” which signify cleanliness and civilisation. These marketing concepts were utilised in an “abstract, almost virtual way”, and placed in opposition to the dirt that collects in the plughole and is absorbed into the grouting – the “undesirable secretion and biological waste”. As Renard explains, “A bathroom can be seen as a workshop, with different tools, machines and products designed to shape and model the body.”
Renard’s visceral interest in biology mapped on to physical action continues in “Meat Drop”. Renard skydived with chunks of pork, and filmed it as an experiment: “a sample of matter reacting to an acceleration. Physicians speed up particles to create fissions; this experience had the same logic. I wanted to challenge my subject using gravity acceleration, and record the action with a camera.”
With influences as diverse as Charles Darwin and Bruce Nauman, it makes sense that Renard’s next projects involve, among others, cultivating a number of highly poisonous plants and a meteorite reserve in Poland.
Text by Susanna Davies-Crook