Rachel Kendall interviews the artist...
Nelly Sanchez is a French artist who has been creating collages for the last ten years. Her work has appeared in such journals as Mung Being, Temporal and Musemedusa. She has illustrated a number of books, the most recent being Black Scat's 2015 edition of von Masoch's Venus in Furs. Five of her creations are currently part of an exhibition in Trélissac.
RK. Are you inspired by any particular artists or art movements? Is there anyone/anything outside the world of art that inspires you?
NS. Surrealism inspires me because this movement smashed the rules of classical art and looked past the mundane to dreams and the unconscious.
Like Frida Khalo or Leonora Carrington, I play with symbols and with representations of femininity.
The images I use for my collages come from women's magazines. The world depicted in those pages is very interesting; sophisticated, shiny, politically correct, yet tyrannical. I like to deform those images, that perfection, to create my own world. Beneath the superficiality, dreams grow wild.
You mentioned femininity and it's true that the first thing one notices when looking at your artwork is the cut outs of glamorous but compartmentalised women - lips, legs,hands etc and often the muscular torsos of men. Are you creating a message about the portrayal of body image in the media, or is this a more personal endeavour to amalgamate your own sense of self as a woman with that of an artist?
Femininity is the major theme of my work.
The female body is idealised, objectified, and worshipped by the media, but I don't take a militant stance against the hypersexualised portrayal of women. However some of my collages denounce the imposition of societal norms on women's bodies; for example Les Mystères de l'anorexie (2007), Fashion Victim (2015) or Secret Room ou un autre à soi (2007).
Do you use any digital processes in your art or do you adopt a more traditional technique, using paper and glue? If you dabble in both methods, do you have a preference for one over the other?
I use only traditional techniques : a pair of scissors and glue. I like touching the paper and playing with elements as if they were so many parts of a puzzle.
My compositional process is very much like solving a puzzle. Everything evolves until it's glued in place.
Yes, I'm oldschool !
That being said, I did do a collage representing what I see as the female condition for L'Emancipation, a French feminist journal. It was called Féminité 2 ( 2014 ), showing a woman being butchered in a slaughterhouse.
I prefer to play with codes and norms. I appropriate what I *should* be as woman : my collages aren't reflections of society but a door to my imagination. A journey to the other side of the mirror.
My artistic approach is also an identity construction. I am these hands, these mouths but I am also the sets of symbols, colors and perspectives contained in my collages.
Do you set out to create a collage with a final image in mind? Eg. do you know you want to include a pair of eyes here and a mouth there, and then go about finding those pictures in magazines, or do you find images that interest you first and then make an artwork out of them?
Generally the ideas spring when I go through magazines. My collages arise from association of ideas, from colors - an automatic creation. It explains why there are recurring elements like red lips, eyes...
When I illustrate a text or an imposed theme, I also work by association. Any pic can be used, it is just necessary to find the elements which can give it sense.
Black Scat's recent edition of von Sacher's Venus in Furs features your collages both on the cover and inside. How does the creative process differ for you, working on someone else's theme (and the limitations this poses), rather than streaming your own self-consciousness?
Working on someone else's theme seems to be, at first, stifling, but in truth, it's very stimulating. Interpreting a specific theme means developing my own interpretation. It's very much like interpreting a musical score. If I can't change the notes, I can bring my sensibility and vision of things to them.
'Self-portrait with a Fan'
'In Search of the Perfect Man'
Thanks to Neddal Ayad for translating the interview