FP Lighting also seems very important in your creation of ambiguous, mysterious atmospheres.
TT Light is an integral part of the work and, to me, speaks of time in particular ways. In half-light, for instance, there is a very strong temporality. In my work, I attempt to evoke a moment that is neither day nor night: entre chien et loup, we say in French, referring to a certain light when things are in the middle—when, symbolically, a dog may become a wolf. Things are just between two worlds that have not yet touched.
FP You make small models in order to explore new forms for your sculptures. Do you draw your forms beforehand, or do you work directly with the model?
TT I start directly with the models and then reproduce them in large format.
FP Here is a small model consisting of a freestanding system of lines within which we see two connected plugs. Such self-feeding motifs, and the use of materials like copper, recur in your work, evoking circuits or continuous life cycles.
TT Yes. And the sculptures remain fixed in a single position, as if in a frozen moment, in a shape determined by the principle of self-generated energy. I like to think of these sculptures as having been shaped by the space that contains them, by the architecture itself—as if their often attenuated forms had been determined by a force of attraction pulling them from the floor toward the ceiling, defying gravity—as if there were magnetic forces at work. It’s a little bit like Giacometti’s sculptures, which look as though they are carved by a corrosive atmosphere, or energy, all around them. I love working with the idea of a form determined by something imperceptible to us.
FP You have explored the double in two related series of drawings, which you called “Intranquility” and “Remanence.” Their dialogue is like that between day and night, right?
TT Exactly. From my drawings in the B.A.I., I got the idea of copying some earlier drawings. Revisiting also means making changes. So I decided to draw black on black, rethinking things that already happened. It’s like when you wake up in the middle of the night in a space that you know, but that you experience in a different way.
FP Imagery from interior design and nature—plants, fragments of landscape—appear often in your drawings. What are your source materials: photographs, magazines?
TT I use everything. I have archives of images catalogued by subject—both found images and photographs I take—but some things I draw directly because they are simple and I don’t find them anywhere else. So there’s a mixture.
FP You often employ fire as an image and as a medium. For instance, you might burn the surface of a drawing. The Plexiglas object here in the studio has traces of some burning, too.
TT I like to allude to something that happened just before we looked—an impact or some kind of activity that has changed the order of things. First I used dripping materials—like oil—and then I started to use fire. A wall drawing I am making for Zurich is of a burning car; in this and other drawings I used fire as a medium to turn some architectural elements drawn with copper into slightly rusty structures.
FP So it’s about the beginning of a transformation.
TT Yes. The trace of an impact with no memory, no history.
FP Circling back to B.A.I., with which we started this conversation: some read in it a critique of the pervasive control of bureaucracy, often associated with French culture. Did you intend this?
TT Yes—the administrative module. That is why I titled it as I did. But for the other modules, that’s not the case. Perhaps many think about the administrative element because the work is called Bureau. Maybe I could have called it “laboratory,” but to me that would have lent the work too experimental a dimension.
FP Too scientific.
TT Yes, and that was not my realm. Today many people think of it as a critique of society, of bureaucracy, but in my mind it was something more open: it evoked both working time and personal time, since bureau in French also means a desk—something you work on at home. “C’est mon bureau” is my study in the sense of my worktable. So this title seemed semantically much more open.
FP What will you show in New York?
TT I would like to show large-format wall drawings enveloping the viewer, along the line of what I will have done in Zurich. I would like to propose that idea through new drawings conceived and made specifically for the gallery. This exhibition will be after the shows in Zurich and Graz, and so I will play somehow with what I did there, to do something specifically for New York. I was happy because the gallery told me that I could do what I wanted.
FP It will be your first show in New York?
TT Yes, so I am quite excited.
“Tatiana Trouvé: Il Grande Ritratto” iscurrently at Kunsthaus Graz [Feb. 2-May 16], and the artist’s solo exhibition at Gagosian Gallery’s Madison Avenue space in New York opens later this month [Mar. 25-June 26]. “Tatiana Trouvé: A Stay Between Enclosure and Space” appeared at the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich [Nov. 21, 2009-Feb. 21, 2010].
Francesca Pietropaolo is a curator and critic based in Venice.