Clémence Vazard is a sound and visual artist. She gets her inspiration from the people she gives a voice to. After graduating with a Master in Arts and Culture Studies at the Sorbonne in Paris in 2009, the artist exhibited her work in international art festivals such as Chromatic Festival in Montreal and Passion for Freedom Festival in London and had several solo and group shows in London (M&C Saatchi), Paris (Galerie 21, FGO Barbara, Le Carreau du Temple…), Avignon (City Hall) and the US (Central Features Gallery). In 2017, a few months before #metoo, she engaged 12 women to reclaim their intimate stories by asking them one question: “What is your first memory of being harassed?”. With these authentic testimonies and powerful portraits, the artist created an immersive visual and sound installation called #monpremierharcelement (#myfirstharassment). By giving these women the rare opportunity to speak up, be listened to and believed, Clémence Vazard transformed intimate stories into political matters. Clémence is a thought leader in art and feminism, the artist is regularly invited to give talks or even museum lectures about women artists and feminist movements.
She recently co-founded “META collective” with 13 French women artists. In a year only, the collective has already been invited to exhibit in galleries and Art Centres in Paris.
Clémence Vazard started her art practice with collage at a young age. Searching for her own identity, she indulged in a research-based practice on women representations in the media. She first created huge art murals with wallpaper and images from women magazines. Rejecting female stereotypes that the media depicted, she then elaborated a process of paper weaving to gather paradoxical images of women together. Endorsing Simone de Beauvoir statement «on ne naît pas femme on le devient» Clémence Vazard built her identity by creating her own imagery of femininity. At this time she drew her inspiration mainly from collage artists as Hannah Hoch and feminist artistic movements from the 1970s. Barbara Kruger’ collages gathering female portraits and statement texts («Your body is a battleground», for example) were a reference and still are in her use of words in her artwork. Obviously Judy Chicago installation “The Dinner Party” is a constant reference for Clémence Vazard researches on female history, the power of the narratives and the display of their singularity.
Clémence Vazard artistic approach has asserted itself with her identity. She uses the power of the narrative in her self-affirmation process as well as her art process. Convinced that the expression of singular stories has more impact on the destruction of stereotypes than their mere denunciation, Clémence Vazard answers political questions with intimate narratives. She draws her inspiration both from her own experience as a woman and from personal stories of the women she gives a voice to. She designs her artworks as platforms to claim her commitments and invite all women to reclaim their stories. Her participative projects are powerful tools to express the singularity of each woman’s story and fight against stereotypes in the process.
From media representation to sexual harassment issues, she creates immersive sound and visual installations for the viewer to rethink History.
In 2016, Clémence Vazard launched an intimate and universal artistic project called #monpremierharcelement (#myfirstharassment), which will later find a strong echo in the #metoo movement. “I wanted to address the subject of harassment through the memory of women and the singular stories they have to tell.” Exploring what she defines as “the first gender trauma” in a woman’s life, the artist invited women of the community to participate in the art process and asked them one question: “What is your first memory of being harassed?” Clémence Vazard used the “unlighted witness” method developed by psychologist Alice Miller to give them the rare opportunity to tell their story, be carefully listened to and believed. The artist then used her collage technique to create both visual and sound art. She gathered their voices and stories in a sound artwork where one can feel the power of their self-told story. And for the portraits, she fragmented the photographs to represent the memory process and the different layers of one story. This project leads to an immersive installation, which mixes photographic and sound collages, that together forms a sensory journey. The fragmented portraits are printed in large scale and positioned in such a way as to surround the viewer. The vocal testimonies are compiled to spread a clamour, hinting at selected pieces of stories. The exhibition immerses the viewer in his/her own experience. The social, participatory, political, intimate and immersive scope of this project makes#monpremierharcelement very representative of Clémence Vazard artistic practice. #monpremierharcelement has since been exhibited in institutions in Paris, Avignon and London and has received a grant from the City of Paris.
Sois Belle Et Tais Toi (Be Pretty and Shut Up)
In this performance, the artist traces the outline of her body with lipstick on a mirror, reminiscent of the traces left on the crime scenes. Clémence Vazard engages the audience to participate until she removes the plaster covering her lips. The pressure to our beauty standards is a psychological violence we suffer as women. By freeing herself from this aesthetic pressure, Clémence Vazard sends a message to other women that no beauty standard should interfere with the construction of their identity.
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