Dr. Kelsey Ashe, 2020. Sculpture Involuntaires. Red Helmet Shell, Leather, Plastic, Metal. 45cm x 20cm x 10cm (unframed). Image Courtesy the Artist. Exhibited at Imaginary Territories PS Art Space Fremantle, October 2020.
Sculpture Involuntaires by Dr. Ashe is made from a pair of Red Helmet shells (Cassidae Tuberosa) and a luxury head phone set. They are an invitation to dwell down deep, into subconscious space via the soothing audio links to the sound of the ocean. When held to the ears the sea roars softly and the smooth shell nacre is delightfully cool, inviting a sense of slow sensuality. The symbol of the shell became a central motif in Ashe’s practice during the COVID19 lock-downs as an emblem of the exo-skeleton – our outer shells, our homes, becoming the place to hide from the world and the inner and outer states of consciousness. In its irrevocable femininity, the shells also speak of L’Amour fou; the uncanny state of spiritual energy propelled by desire and also of the search for interconnectivity between nature, space, body and what may be beyond our grasp.
The Exhibition Imaginary Territories curated by Dr. Kelsey Ashe (2020, PS Art Space, Fremantle) explores the continuing influence of Surrealism, particularly in the work of contemporary Australian female artists and acknowledges 100 years since Surrealism first emerged from Europe in the 1920s, spreading worldwide, all the way to the far away Antipodes.
During the 1930s Andre Breton and Salvador Dali worked on an article ‘Sculpture Involuntaires’ for the Parisian magazine Minotaure (1933) with Julius Brassaï; a Hungarian–French photographer who documented the automatic sculptures that he and Dali made from ‘the irrational acquaintance of things’, made from malleable materials that were immediately at hand. The group saw the activity as a source of irrational knowledge by modifying the reality of an object. Breton and the Surrealists were also fascinated with the ability of eros to heighten our sense of the divine. To seek L’Amour fou or ‘mad love’ through symbols of desire, whether object, person, word or art was to seek out the marvellous. Not only the male, but also female surrealists embraced this approach as a means to explore ideas on liberty, the subconscious and the surreal.