Home with Anne Mourier
Anne Mourier is a French-born Brooklyn-based artist whose work explores the quest for home. She uses a variety of platforms to depict this quest that include sculptures, media and collage work.
Her latest exhibition, Elevation, follows a trail of cleaning products to the altar of the feminine. She looks at the feminine archetype through a holy depiction using cleaning products as relics leading to the divine mother: home.
I sat down with Anne to ask how home, statelessness and gender play a role in her art:
You state that your work is about the search for home. Is your recent exhibition, Elevation, moving away from that?
Home can take a lot of shapes and forms but it is generally seen or hoped for as a sort of heaven. Heaven can be on earth, made of bricks and mortar, or it can be an imaginary place in the sky as represented in many cultures and religions. In my installation Elevation, in which cleaning tools and sculptural reliquaries pay homage to cleanliness and guide the way to a feminine figure, we discuss the links between purity and heaven. Home is “the Mother” and Elevation was born from my mother’s story. I’m interested in the cleanliness of the family construct and the archetypal representation of women.
How has the refugee crisis influenced your work?
The refugee crisis deepens my own scars, making them connected to the collective. I was born in a home where I was not wanted or welcomed and therefore felt like I didn’t have a home. The crisis motivates and informs my work a lot. I am searching how I could offer the refugee a home.
The recent project “Refuges” is an attempt at that. It is a collaborative work I made with an architect friend. We made small boxes that are some form of ideal refuge, or home, and also created photos of these “refuges.” Recent studies show that the human brain can be tricked and can feel comfort in an image. We want to distribute these images to people in prisons.
Do you think depictions of “home” in art and media are problematic? If so, why? What do they omit?
Yes, I think depictions of home are especially problematic in the media and sometimes in art. The reason being that home is almost always depicted as something light and inconsequential, when most scars or joy people experience were born at home and will stay with them their whole lives.
Home is a very important key in human life. It is often portrayed as the woman’s domain as opposed to the man’s, which is supposed to be “outside of the home.” Women are supposed to “make the home” and men are supposed to “rest at home.” These clichés keep people in boxes — separate boxes.
How does gender and sex play a part in your art?
This might look like a strange answer for anyone who knows my work but I don’t think they do play a big part. I am a woman and I express things with the tools I know best, but I also believe the message can be universal. I believe the ideas of home, the Mother, God and sexuality are all connected, but whether they are in a female body, male body or transgender body it doesn’t matter. Gender is a non-subject for me. We are all human and we are all sexual… it is just humanity.
Can you separate the art from the artist?
In my case you absolutely cannot. My art is my therapy. It’s me, my background, my history, my scars, my fears, my hopes… I think, in general, it is difficult to separate the art from the artist. Even if certain forms of art are solely about beauty, it is always beauty through the eyes of each specific artist.
What was the last thing that made you laugh?
I don’t laugh a lot. I am a serious person. I read a lot of intense philosophy and anthropology books… but I smile. The last thing that made me smile was my happy, optimist husband who almost dropped his phone in the street and caught it in an acrobatic pirouette.
Where is your favorite place in New York?
It is the block where I work in Brooklyn, where the Invisible Dog Art Center is. Bergen Street is a wide street with wide sidewalks and we are on the sunny side of the street. It’s a warm community, and there is always someone on the sidewalk to talk to.