Thursday, 30 April 2009

Annette Messager

Yesterday I went to the Hayward to see 'The Messengers' a restrospective of Annette Messager, who's widely regarded as one of Europe’s most important contemporary artists.

Objects and materials from everyday life - including newspaper and stuffed toys, photographs, cloth, wool and embroidery - as well as large scale inflatables and lights, are transformed to create artworks that explore the fears and fantasies beneath the surface of daily life. Her works freely move between a coexistence of opposing ideas, such as humour and fear, pure and vicious, reality and imagination, human and animal, life and death - which seemed to give off the impression of a curious, fragile little girl.

[Inflated-Deflated, 2006]

Described as a 'wheezing, heaving mass of inflatable body parts and fanciful creatures' there was something strangely relaxing about watching oversized entrails inflating and deflating.

[My Vows, 1988-91]

[Remains II (Family (II), 2000]

'I like to tell stories... children's stories are monstrous,' Messager has said, much of her work over the last four decades is based on toys and childhood.

[Story of Dresses, 1990]

[Casino, 2005]

This final photo shows the installation that won Messager the prestigious Golden Lion award at the 2005 Venice Biennale and, in my opinion, it was by far the most unsettling and impressive piece at the exhibition.

Inspired by the episode in the story of Pinnochio where he is swallowed by a whale, Casino is a 'welcoming belly, a warm and friendly burial'. Aquatic shapes both descend from the ceiling and inflate and light up underneath a sea of red silk which is slowly and eerily pumped with air, emerging from a door and spilling out in front of you in waves, like a scene straight out of a David Lynch movie.


  1. ...or the scene in the Shining where the blood spills out of the elevator. I love that piece.