Mai-Thu Perret (b. 1976, Geneva, Switzerland) is known for her multidisciplinary practice that engages feminist politics, literary texts and homemade crafts, alongside a range of 20th century avant-garde and radical art movements, from Constructivism and Dada to Bauhaus design. Demonstrating an interest in Eastern religions, the occult and the natural world, Perret has described her practice as ‘more like a symphony than a single voice’, a notion supported by her fictional narrative, The Crystal Frontier, first realised by the artist in 1999. This ongoing chronicle follows the progress of a group of women who form an autonomous commune in the remote desert of South Western New Mexico in an attempt to escape the shackles of capitalism and patriarchal convention.
Since its inception, Perret’s unique project has evolved across installation, performance, sculpture, textiles and the written word, all produced from the perspective of the commune’s members. The artist’s interest in ancient civilisations and their ‘new age’ interpretation has seen the creation of invented relics, blending traditional, artisanal and spiritual practices with a postmodern aesthetic. Set within a context that is as much motivated by social and political principles, as it is by formal modes of art making, The Crystal Frontier gives rise to a critical questioning of personal and communal identities. Perret’s continually expanding fiction explores how both personalities and objects function within the cultural and social systems they inhabit, the nature of utopia, and the compelling power of revolution and ritual.
Mai-Thu Perret: News from Nowhere
Simon Lee Gallery is pleased to present News from Nowhere, an exhibition of new works by Swiss artist Mai-Thu Perret. This will be her second solo exhibition at the Hong Kong gallery.
The exhibition’s title derives from British polymath and socialist activist, William Morris’ 1890 novel of the same name, in which he imagines a utopian future liberated from systems of capitalism. Blending utopian socialism with science fiction, the narrative follows William Guest who, after returning home from a meeting of the Socialist League, wakes the next morning to find himself catapulted into the twenty-first century and into a world beyond all recognition. Following revolutionary upheaval, England, now called ‘Nowhere’, has become a humane socialist society in which all people live in equality. Yet just as quickly as he finds himself in this paradise, Guest is transplanted back to the nineteenth century where he resolves to make his dream of the future a reality of the Victorian social order. Perret’s practice directly references Morris, whose vision of a utopian future reflects the fictionalised women-only commune that has been central to her work for the past two decades. The Crystal Frontier explores the lives of an autonomous community who have abandoned Western neoliberal society for the remote desert of South Western Mexico, envisaged by the artist as a refuge from the ills of capitalism and patriarchal convention. Like Morris’ News from Nowhere, Perret’s project engages with the promise of an ideological agenda that promotes egalitarian human relationships.
As part of its Viewing Room programme, Simon Lee Gallery is pleased to present a solo presentation of ceramic works by gallery artist Mai-Thu Perret. Known for her multi-disciplinary practice that engages installation, performance, sculpture, textile, and the written word, Perret derives inspiration from such avant-garde art movements of the twentieth-century as Dada, Constructivism and Bauhaus design, exploring the ways in which modernist form and artisanal genres, including craft, fashion and theatre, collide.
Mai-Thu Perret: Zone
Simon Lee Gallery, London, 2017