click on images to enlarge

Heart-On was an exhibition of honey-comb paper sculptures, found objects and borrowed text, and was created during a 3-month residence at IASKA (International Art Space Kellerberrin Australia)

IASKA catalogue text by Boris Kremer:

Such Lush Femininity -On decoration, romance and deceit in the work of Louise Paramor

“Such lush femininity…a cloud of shiny brown curls bouncing around a soft, beautiful face... skin gleaming like honey satin... an appealing freshness about her lemon dress which somehow accentuated the sensuality of full breasts thrusting against it, the seductive sway of perfectly curved hips, the graceful movement of long legs. Its line of buttons could open all of her to him...” (1)

Were one to give a style sheet description of Louise Paramor’s latest works, this might just be the adequate literary style to do so. Ample bosoms, glistening wet thighs, firm, pear-shaped buttocks; such are the bodily attributes of Paramor’s “beauties” teasing the viewer in a purposeful attempt to “send a surge of blood to his loins”. (2)

In 2001, during a three-month-long “outback residency” at the International Art Space Kellerberrin Australia - IASKA, the Berlin-based, self-proclaimed  ”Love Artist” (3) was to experience an intense feeling of both geographical and social remoteness. Seeking escape from her isolation, she instinctively cast herself in the role of an addicted dime novel reader, investigating the imaginary space of pulp fiction. Having confronted her own reality with the romanticised ideals that make our wishful dream worlds, she set out to complete an installation that would visualise these conflicting realms. Under the tacky headline Heart-On, her exhibition in the rather conservative Wheatbelt community of Kellerberrin, WA, alternatively struck the chords of sexual lure and deceit.

While the interior of the exhibition space was concealed covering the front windows in thick acrylic paint, the show1s apparently sleazy intents, enshrined in its frivolous title, were boldly marked in gold vinyl lettering across the entrance. In the locals’ minds, there was little doubt that this rather “full-on” setting, reminiscent of red light districts the world over, was geared at luring honest folks with the forbidden promise of readily available, lascivious sexuality. Once inside, lusting trespassers would in fact find themselves contemplating rather innocent girlie beach towels, embroidered with duplicitous quotes borrowed from the popular Harlequin Mills & Boon novel series. Next to the towels, sombre snake-like paper objects constructed in delicate honeycomb technique wallowed on the floor, curling around the large room’s central pillars in what seemed an horizontal extension of a bulging red lantern cascading from the ceiling.
When faced with Louise Paramor’s whimsical hijacking of popular fiction, visitors tend to simply interpret her gesture as derisive of a particular style of representation, one that is commonly regarded as pertaining to the realm of “low culture”. More accurately, beneath such reductive reading lurks a world of deception and failure. For when she constructs decorative environments drawing on corner-shop imagery, Paramor actually offers a glimpse into her subconscious, and not least ours. Hers is a longing for a perfect world, yet a longing informed by the intuition that sweet utopia is just a step short of plain kitsch. Thus, in unearthing the artist’s personal affections, her constructions manage to unravel stereotyped underpinnings of social representation at large.

Ultimately, Paramor’s strategies circle around the notion of décor, a continuously discussed issue in the history of art and its relation to other disciplines. The exacerbated formalism of the Heart-On display updated this ongoing debate about shape and content - or form and function, as it were - by plunging into the marshes of trash vernacular. What, then, is the function of Paramor’s objects? Interestingly, the presupposed instrumentality of the beach towels is itself equivocal. Certainly, their obviously poor quality betrays any effective usage. Does this mean that their use value is rather contained within the peculiar imagery they carry? If so, why not go for a poster instead?

Louise Paramor’s mock erotic stage sets highlight the friable status of these and other found objects by evidencing the semantic cul-de-sac their all too overt enterprise of seduction is heading for. In their pleasurable, but nonetheless vain endeavour, the fancy towels and romance novels use in fact similar mechanisms. Paramor takes their syntactic redundancy a step further by isolating and recombining their stylised devices. When linked to the suggestive shapes of three-dimensional, handcrafted paper sculptures, these reframed artefacts create a physical space where our clichéd presumptions are exposed in nearly unbearable excess. The resulting site is a tautological image box, a saturated surface onto which our hopes and dreams can no longer be projected. Instead of redemptory bliss, we are left with a contrived glance into the abyss of representation; an unsuspected insight into the necessary failure of vernacular imagery as a means to signify our eccentric desires.

(1) Emma Darcy, Outback Heat, Harlequin Mills & Boon, Chatswood, NSW, 1998.
ISBN 0 733 51144 9.
(2) ibid.
(3) The Love Artist is the self-derisory title of Louise Paramor1s 2002 solo exhibition at Breitengraser - room for contemporary sculpture, Berlin.

Heart-on was also shown in 2003 at Project Space, RMIT University, Melbourne.
Heart-on was reviewed in The Age newspaper.

Site Meter