Music* Cocteau Twins – Shallow then halo / Artwork* Thomas Devaux – Attrition II

Music & Visions selected by Anna Lisa DM

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Shallow then halo from Garlands studio album, released: 1 September 1982, Studio: Blackwing Studios, London, England, Label: 4AD, Producer: Cocteau Twins and Ivo Watts-Russell.
Founded in 1981 by Robin Guthrie, Will Heggie and Elizabeth Fraser, the Cocteau Twins have always been a threesome. In 1983, Will Heggie departed the band and, in 1984, Simon Raymonde joined Robin and Liz. This lineup would be the de-facto Cocteau Twins until their breakup in 1998.
“They were a phenomenon. Not necessarily the kind that plays to stadiums or fills MTV’s timeslots or even sells millions of records. Rather, the kind that quietly causes a fundamental shift in perception, exerting a seminal influence that is universally felt if not always seen. Even after having called it quits in 1998—ending a 15-year career together that was impressive by any measure—their mark continues to be recognized everywhere, and legions of fans still hunger for more. But more is not likely to come soon.
In the midst of recording their ninth proper LP as a group—the follow-up to the 1996 release Milk & Kisses—Cocteau Twins decided “enough was enough.” Elizabeth Fraser, the group’s beguiling, singularly distinctive singer, took her leave and moved away from London to pursue a promising solo career. Her long-time collaborators—Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde—continue to focus on their own musical pursuits. Simon’s solo work and involvement in developing new talent and Robin’s new project, Violet Indiana—along with their successful independent record label, Bella Union—have proven that life beyond Cocteau Twins can be fruitful indeed… history continues here


Thomas Devaux’s
work can be described as ruderal plasticity, meaning that it is rubble based. From his first collages until his more recent Reliquary, including the Attrition series – a title referring to the loss of substance through wearing and friction – the plastic artist creates pictures using primary images’ scrap. Devaux’s technique is one of restructuring and reorganizing the whole body or its parts, by gathering its traces. Gathering organic or visual substance from art exhibitions, he aims to reinstall the social theatre’s codes to a controlled visibility, borrowing the features of religious art. While firmly atheistic, Devaux’s work nevertheless, treats his iconography as a repertoire of the “vestigial” – to use Jean Luc Nancy’s word – an ultimate survival of the world’s lost transcendence. Taking place in what one may call: the economy of the trivial, this iconography materializes figures as charnel as they are vaporous, and fetish characteristics cast a new look upon desire’s plasticity and its relation to art.
Chimeras. From the very onset of his first collages, which portrayed both a Christ-like and dionysiac dismemberment, Devaux has worked at dislocating figures, to better blur his representations. Adopting a certain cynicism towards photography, he modifies and sculpts light with a painting like finish, where the paper’s opacity and figures’ dissolution antagonize each other. The contour’s erasure, the hair’s evanescence and texture’s disintegration bring a spectral feeling, when adding ghost limbs (a baby’s leg, an intruding hand), or dissonant elements (a red flower bouquet with a fleshy quality) fully compromising the character’s integrity. The translucent bodys’ appearing inconsistency, their liquefied traits, circled with auratic light, create uncertain identities to surviving bodies. Plunged in a refined décor, these monsters of elegance are fixed in a sort of expectation, their gazes neutralized, revealing a naked and still presence, rather indifferent than melancholic, through which reality completes its undoing.
Profanation(s). Thomas Devaux acts as an iconoclast by confronting the “sacred” – literally, that which can’t be touched without profaning it – with the trivial. Through certain aspects, his compositions respect the classical conventions of religious representation: the sfumato and the diffused background aesthetic, seem directly borrowed from Renaissance paintings, allowing a divine elevation to take place. The highlighted feminisation of Christ, the Madonna’s stigmas, a white virgin with a lascivious hand touching her thigh, place these archetypes in flesh’s realm and instil an undeniable sexual tension. Such as this young girl on the edge of the window, whom we’re unable to discern whether she’s preparing to jump or enticing someone, these saints often adopt the likes of surreal and disabused prostitutes, enhancing confusion between phantom and fantasy.
Fetishism. From distorted religious iconography to supermarket photography, Thomas Devaux’s work is haunted by the fetishist question (such as body, body image seen as a masterpiece or merchandise). As he operates a historical transfer by conveying religious feelings into our consumer’s society, his portraits equate the metaphysical with the vulgar, the transcendent with the immanent. In so doing, characters and situations normally viewed as spiritual are made corporeal.
Florian Gaité, Art Critic (Artpress, France Culture…

Né en 1980. Vit et travaille à Paris France.
Thomas Devaux est un photographe plasticien et l’auteur de plusieurs séries complexes où entrent en jeu tant les valeurs fondatrices que les évolutions actuelles de la photographie.
Son travail photographique proche de la peinture et du dessin, lui permet de poursuivre sa recherche sur les thèmes du sacré du profane et de la transcendance que l’on retrouve dès ses premiers travaux.
Dans sa série Attrition, Thomas Devaux interroge la photographie, sa valeur indicielle n’y est pas niée : il s’agit bien d’une prise de vue directe, mais une prise de vue envisagée d’emblée comme fragment d’une recomposition future. Dès lors, sa pratique découle de simples clichés d’événements comme des vernissages, qu’il utilise comme une simple matière première. Le travail du plasticien met en œuvre une plasticité rudérale, au sens d’une création de formes à partir de restes. Ils les mélangent et les transforment à l’extrême, pour créer des personnages irréels, des divinités inquiétantes, qui constitue sa propre mythologie.

Après Attrition, l’artiste développe maintenant un nouvel ensemble intitulé The Shoppers / Rayons, décliné en une série dephotographies et une installation, plus proche du réel et néanmoins toujours baigné dans un état de grâce. Ces portraits sont ceux d’une population mixte, commune, prise à la caisse d’un supermarché, souvent le regard vide, la tête penchée. Ils ne sont photographiés qu’au moment où ils payent ce qu’ils doivent. L’image pauvre de ces personnes amendées à payer est ensuite décontextualisée, déconnectée de sa réalité par le traitement caractéristique en noir et blanc de Thomas Devaux, pour être à nouveau hissée au rang d’icone moderne.
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