Matters of Concern, Mountaincutters

La Verrière, the Brussels art space of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès


View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
From June 19, 2021 until September 11, 2021
For the seventh exhibition in the series “Matters of Concern | Matières à panser”, curator Guillaume Désanges presents “Les Indices de la respiration primitive” (“Signs of primal breath”), an exhibition by the French artist duo mountaincutters, at La Verrière, the Brussels art space of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, from June 19 to September 11, 2021.
Extension sustained by disorder
The artist duo mountaincutters are a hybrid identity that practise sculpture in situ, investing spaces with materials and objects. Reflecting the duo’s ambivalent identity, their hybrid aesthetic favours transitional situations and incomplete forms, as the basis for strange compositions with a distinctive, wild beauty. Their work deploys altered, deformed or evolving materials (dust, earth, rust, raw or barely worked clay, organic fragments placed in metal boxes, crude furniture that resembles prosthetic limbs or mechanical appendages) in large-scale installations that bear the mark of indefinable human activity, suspended between artisanship and industry, construction and destruction, architecture and archaeology. At times, the work resembles a derelict industrial landscape or an archaeological dig in progress, at others a factory or laboratory. Invariably, it obeys a functional logic, whose ultimate purpose escapes us. The raw, sometimes brutal nature of mountaincutters’ forms is balanced by the subtlety of their handiwork, the finesse of particular treatments, the recourse to specific skills and know-how which together generate a unique tension: we are invited both to doubt and to be seduced by what we see. The quasi-archaic simplicity of their forms combines rigour, mindful attention to detail and precision, in presentations that range from the discreetly theatrical to the frankly spectacular.

The body as machine 

The question of physicality is omnipresent in mountaincutters’ work, though the body is essentially an imprint, a recorded absence. Something marginal. The work is loud with the body’s absence: we perceive the duo’s sculptures as things of human making, or material avatars, or prosthetics. Their characteristically clinical aesthetic (metal chairs, beds, benches and furniture) manifests strength, resistance and vulnerability alike, as if matter existed not to be bent to the creative will, but rather to extend, support or facilitate the creative gesture. Yet the work’s material fabric is not pre-eminent or unassailable. Signs of fragility are everywhere (wheels or feet are made of glass, there are visible alterations, repairs, scars). But this is a shared vulnerability, conceived in a spirit of solidarity. mountaincutters’ objects and installations reify abstract concepts of “care”: positive thinking that has influenced our collective morale and impacted specific social and sanitary practices. The duo’s seemingly abandoned relics – suffused with an ambivalent aesthetic of corruption and decay – are paradoxically a celebration of life. Each of these imperfect forms  or broken structures, at once powerful and fragile, quietly manifests an unstoppable life force. Their material flesh, their veins and fluids, their outpourings, oozings and decomposition identify them as systems that are both sick and affirmatively alive, drawing strength and vigour from their very precarity.
Text by Guillaume Désanges
View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, Edgard. F. Grima Collection, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, Edgard. F. Grima Collection, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, Edgard. F. Grima Collection, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Anatomie d’un corps absent”, Le Creux de l’Enfer, Thiers (France), 2019, production Le Creux de l’Enfer, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
mountaincutters, Objets Incomplets (Anatomie d’un corps absent), 2019, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of mountaincutters’ studio, 2020, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of mountaincutters’ studio, 2020, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
mountaincutters, Études (ponctions), 2020, copper wire, copper offcuts, collage, graphite, adhesive paper, water and pigments on paper, 29.7 × 42 cm, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
mountaincutters, Le Sens du sol, 2020, 29th edition of L’Art dans les Chapelles, Chapelle Saint-Meldéoc, Guern (France), courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Les morceaux de paysages enrayaient l’appareil corps”, Centre Céramique Contemporaine La Borne (France), 2019, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Les morceaux de paysages enrayaient l’appareil corps”, Centre Céramique Contemporaine La Borne (France), 2019, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Les morceaux de paysages enrayaient l’appareil corps”, Centre Céramique Contemporaine La Borne (France), 2019, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of the exhibition “Les morceaux de paysages enrayaient l’appareil corps”, Centre Céramique Contemporaine La Borne (France), 2019, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
mountaincutters, Supplique pour le beau temps (still), 2021, digitized film 16mm, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of mountaincutters’ exhibition “Du pouce jusqu’à l’auriculaire”, Espace Croisé – Centre d’Art Contemporain, Roubaix (France), 2021, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
View of mountaincutters’ exhibition “Du pouce jusqu’à l’auriculaire”, Espace Croisé – Centre d’Art Contemporain, Roubaix (France), 2021, production Fondation d'entreprise Martell, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters
mountaincutters, Objets incomplets (Anatomie d’un corps absent), 2019, industrial lamp, steel, glass, copper, animal fat, ceramic, insect remains, paper, in the group exhibition “SIGNAL_ Espace(s) Réciproque(s)”, Panorama, Friche La Belle de Mai, CWB Paris, Marseille, 2020, courtesy of the artists © mountaincutters