Artist Tatiana Trouveau Creates Monuments From Memories

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What we see of art is the perfected final object – we are rarely allowed to know the secrets of its making. On a recent visit to Naples, however, artist Tatiana Trouvou provided a peek behind the curtain. While she was finalizing the preparations for her personal exhibitions in Paris at the Center Pompidou and Gagosian, she showed me around her studio at the Fonderia Nolana.

The Foundry is a block of a building behind security gates in an outlying industrial district, but inside its hallways are lined with copies of ancient Greek sculpture and statues in power-sanding plaster. Found goes past carpentry and marble carving workshops to an attic. Here, his bronze and stone sculptures invade every surface, waiting to be assembled into compositions.

“This place is like an extension of my studio,” she says, her dark hair pulled over one shoulder in a long braid. Born in Italy and raised in Senegal, Trouvou has lived and worked in the Paris region for more than 25 years.

Marcello Del Giudice, whose family has run the Fonderia Nolana for four generations, gives oublie packets of multicolored patinas for his bronze pieces. “With Marcello, I can explain anything that’s on my mind and he’s always ready to develop new methods to make those weird pieces,” she says. “This requires a deep relationship of trust and complicity.” They experimented with casting a dead ferret directly, she says, after finding a lifeless one near her Paris studio. With the help of Del Giudice, he is “reborn in bronze”.

The Fonderia Nolana in Naples which produces pieces for Found

Found first arrived at Fonderia Nolana in 2018 with an “expansive and impossible shot involving a fountain”, but Del Giudice immediately agreed to produce it. The foundry collaborates with many artists – including Camille Henrot, Nico Vascellari and Ugo Rondinone – who “prompt us to develop ideas that require methods that perhaps do not yet exist”, explains Del Giudice. “Artists make our work more dynamic and, frankly, more interesting.”

Found’s installations incorporate books that influenced her and which Fonderia Nolana recreates in marble – Fernando Pessoa, Paul Valéry and others rendered as shrines and eternities in stone. The marble is not cut from new stone from earth-damaging quarries, but from centuries-old tombstones that are removed from cemeteries and thrown away periodically to make room for the new dead.

“I wanted to reduce my environmental impact as an artist,” she says. “And old stones add more layers of stories to the stories I create.” Portions of dates and inscriptions remain visible on the books’ covers, alongside their newly chiseled titles. “These are like portraits to me,” she says, pointing to a meter-wide slab with a name and “1912” in Roman numerals, the next to be engraved in books. “The person is no longer there, but there is a representation of his life.”

For Trouvou, memories are the building blocks of her multi-material installations, incorporating tokens of her own memories alongside those of long-dead strangers. There’s a fondness for existence that pervades everything from its salvaged tombstones to the immortalized dead ferret. “All of these items bear my affection,” she said, pointing to a row of bronze castings of well-used bars of soap. “Each soap reflects the shared work of many people and many hands that have soiled themselves here. I want everyone to see those invisible hands behind the work.

A large shiny black stone stands on a red brick and a black brick

‘Notes on Sculpture’ (2022)

A bronze orange sits on a black block above an aluminum cardboard box

A detail of ‘Notes on the sculpture’ © Tatiana oublie. Courtesy of the artist/Gagosian. Photo: Florian Kleinefenn (2)

Around her, spiky thistle flowers cast in unpolished bronze rest on a trestle table, a criss-crossed travel bag carved from solid green onyx rests on a wooden pallet, marble books are stacked on a chair. She gathers a handful of metal flowers and places them on the stone sack, as part of her process of creating stagings that combine sculptures into a collage of solid symbols, which she calls “Guardians” and describes as ” a sculpture treated as a drawing”. ”. A marble edition of Mathilde Larrère’s book Rage against machismo joins the bag and the flowers. Crafted from the materials of classical sculpture, these ordinary objects are reframed into monuments.

Among the many works in the Pompidou exhibition, Trouvou covers the sprawling floor of the gallery with a multi-layered drawing of ways to navigate the world, from the scent trails of wolves to the map of the landscape dreams of the Warlpiri natives of Australia. She is also mounting a series of 56 drawings she created during the first Covid lockdown, when she covered the front page of a diary every day with meticulous line drawings – a diary of anxiety and frustration sketched out in pencil.

Alongside the new designs, three sculptures of her Guardians series will inhabit the space. In these installations, Found places abandoned books and objects on chairs to represent an imaginary human, just gone – an unseen life signified in the objects a person has touched and perhaps cherished. She details one: a cheap garden chair with a discarded hoodie and books, all in marble, with those of Luigi Pirandello Uno, Nessuno, and Centomila (One, no one and a hundred thousand) stealthily.

What looks like a pale blue hoodie is glued to what looks like a cheap lawn chair but is actually marble

“The Guardian” (2022)

Close-up of the hoodie

Detail from ‘The Guardian’ © Tatiana Trouvé. Courtesy of the artist/Gagosian. Photo: Florian Kleinefenn (2)

These “keepers” are the keepers of memories and so much more, according to Found. “I wanted to make sculptures that were benevolent, sculptures that could protect other works.” It’s a way of rewarding the artists who paved the way for her, she says – Alighiero Boetti, Eva Hesse and others. Found herself worked as a caretaker at the Pompidou decades ago, overseeing the art and, in an emergency, leaving a book on her chair as a sign of life in the room. “It was like leaving my ghost behind for visitors.”

The Pompidou exhibition marks his second solo outing at the museum; the first, in 2008, followed by winning the Prix Marcel Duchamp. In 2020, she received the Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters of France for her contribution to culture.

“With a museum exhibition, you are writing a piece of your history,” says TROUB, who looks forward to this new chapter. The nearly 15 years since her last exhibition at the institution have changed the outlook for her and others once called “female artists”. Previously, she says, art labeled as inferior was often referred to as “feminine art”, and as recently as 2000 a collector informed her that he was interested in her work but “didn’t did not collect women.

Now, thankfully, more attention is paid to the balance of representation. “It’s not that women have suddenly become better artists,” Trouvou said, holding up one of his spiky bronze flowers like a torch. “It’s that the way of seeing women’s work is finally changing.

‘The Great Atlas of Disorientation’, Center Pompidou, Paris, to August 22, centrepompidou.fr

Gagosian, Paris, to September 3, gagosian.com

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