HERITAGE-NATIF — MARIE HUDELOT
curated by Carine Dolek
In La peinture préhistorique, Lascaux ou la naissance de l’art, one of Georges Bataille’s main themes is the absence of human faces on the famous cave’s wall. The paintings are mostly animal figures, and when a human figure is painted, the face is hidden, covered or replaced by an animal mask.
Using her own family story of French and Algerian heritage, Marie Hudelot’s work invests the fertile space between memory and oblivion, visible and invisible, past and present, abstract and figurative, where we build our identities, as people and as societies, inviting us for a walk through our self perception, bursting the shallow surface of our inner alterity. In her Heritage series, she creates totem portraits using the symbols of her two countries of origin, to recompose and engrave her symbolic and virtual self. The camouflage embodies this whole meaning by hiding under the symbolic a subject you barely see the skin of. The pineapple for exoticism, the Hadrien helmet for the First World War, the feathers for the bourgeoisie social class, the root for the homeland, the scarves… In that game of shamanic peekaboo, the inside and the outside are upside down, and what is exposed is much more precious than expected. The delicate feathers, the precious old relic helmet, the light materials, the fragile plants and roots, the meticulously brushed hair, are everyday treasures of the self that are strong enough, though, to shape a life. As an echo reflection of Heritage, the Native series settles Marie’s quest for her African roots, with her Kabyle grand mother, her sub-Saharan origins grand father and a Senegalese step-father. In a globalised post-colonised world, she plays with the fantasy of a fictional panafrican family: the King, the Queen, the Voodoo, the slave or the military commander, poor and rich, weak and strong, but all meaningful, whom we could all count in our potential family tree. In her two echoing works, with the help of masks, helmets, scarves, branches, skulls or flags contrasting with the bourgeois classic and clean portrait poses delicately lit, Marie Hudelot creates room for an undefined, unfinished, never-ending narrative of the self. Because, today just as in the Lascaux caves, nobody’s a border.