Camille Kachani

Camille Kachani

16/Apr/2014 – 10/May/2014

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    Art is traditionally opposed to nature. Nature is the original condition, which has not been cultivated by man and that exists regardless of human activity, of any artistic artifice. Art, as a manmade construction, is usually understood as the opposite to the original and primitive condition of the natural elements. Aristotle stated that art imitates nature. It was a case of perceiving that art produces in a “how to do it” fashion, not only in the sense of reproducing, representing things or images of nature, but in developing the actual inventive process of nature, in the possibility of a seed being transformed into a tree.

    Camille Kachani’s work, like most western art, creates things that nature does not provide, but that potentially exist within it. Wood, a recurrent organic material in the artist’s work, carries an affective load. For Kachani, it is as if human nature and this material shared something similar. A kind of primordial history in common. It is as if the artist used a possibility of the wood becoming something else: a desk, the handle of a hammer or a case. Even though the plants that sprout in his objects are artificial, this does not mean that the works only imitate the outward aspect of nature. The works draw and reflect on both the inventive power of nature and objects of culture. The drawers and legs of the desk are not ready made, they are built by Kachani’s hands. Indeed, there is no apparent difference between what the artist appropriates and what he makes.

    The handles are elongated as if they were alive, growing spontaneously and effortlessly within the objects themselves. One of the recurring strategies in Kachani’s work is the notion of pasting to juxtapose contrasting and complementary elements. The most fundamental relationships are formed between the natural and manual elements, but there is a series of other more prosaic relationships, like that of the useful and useless or organic and inorganic. One can observe that these pairs of opposites tend to transform into one another. Nature is revealed as artificial and the transformed material, the wood, as natural.

    In any case, the craftwork aspect tends to prevail over the industrial, over the large-scale feat in an impersonal logic of repetition. In addition to the creative process of the pieces being manual, this set of works by Kachani instigates contact with the visitors’ hands. There is something sensitive and tactile in many of them. The objects are originally made for the body, especially for the hands, as if destined to be touched: scythe, scissors, hoe, brush, knife, handles of household utensils or door or drawer handles.

    There is also a dimension of the senses in these works linked to subjective memory. The drawer and the cases are containers readily associated to memories, stored away and recalled. However, the making and action of executing he work possess something of the conceptual. Many of the instruments used to construct the work are also constituent of it. As well as being easily handled instruments, their presence seems to be a self-reflecting return of the work on itself. It is the work that addresses its own construction process, referring to such commonly used objects in the studio, such as the hammer.

    There are also a series of other works situated between balance and imbalance. These are apparently unstable arrangements, but that possess firmly grounded supports: with three or four legs, the pieces are supported by the sum of diverse instruments. They seem to dance a music without any choreography. An unlikely, lopsided staircase is erected from instruments that are transformed into steps and sides. The piece, which cannot bear the weight of a person, repels the visitor’s touch with the threat of the sharp-edged and pointed utensils that form it. The ergonomics of the objects made for the hand are not fully adapted to the new function that the objects have acquired.

    There is a total disjunction between the new form and its previous function. What is left is an abyss between the everyday use of the objects and the arrangement of the final piece.

    This distance appears in a more direct manner when utensils like a glass, plate and cutlery are split in half. There is a break that does not completely separate one half from the other because they are both there, close and alluding to a whole. There is a small division that, at the same time, separates and unites the objects. This is the hiatus between the two halves of a hammer that synthesizes the entire exhibition: the distance between a totality and a singularity drawn from the art. In Camille Kachani’s work, nature vs. art or natural vs. manual, rather than opposites, are inseparable units.

    Cauê Alves

    Critical essay