The Illusion of Permanence: Adrian de Banville Interviews Kristin Reger

Exhibition Photo, Burst 2021 © PJ Rountree.

Kristin Reger: Burst

Salon Silicon

November 3, 2021 through January 2, 2022


ADRIAN DE BANVILLE: Thank you so much for having me. We are sitting cross legged on an old looking but very charming bench in front of your gallery show, whose name is…

KRISTIN REGER: The show is called Burst and it’s at Salon Silicon.

ADB: Yes, that's it. It bursts indeed. I would like to start the conversation with the way that we met. I remember well, before actually meeting you in the flesh, I saw a picture of you pole dancing that I thought was absolutely mindblowing. You were in this super foxy, leather strappy outfit with huge platform heels, sort of similar to the ones you're wearing right now. I was like, who is this woman? We met just a couple of months after, back when you were in a sculpture residency, here in Mexico City.

KR: I didn't know my image as an amateur pole dancer preceded me. 

ADB: Yeah. I would even say it's notorious. I found out that you’re a sort of jackie-of-all trades, and you’re getting known as a practicing visual artist here in Mexico City. I’m amazed at how beautiful and striking the texture was in the sculptures you presented back in April during Zona Maco  [IUDUIUDUI, Rava Projects]. We have something similar here [in Burst]. These are just amazing, an installation of several sculptures in suspension. What are they made of?

KR: These are porcelain bisque. That means it's just the first firing of the clay, it's much more fragile, but it's also lighter and larger.

My last works had more to do with skin and rupture, as if blood and guts could rise to and out of the surface. They were blindingly shiny; I went to a limit about questioning where the boundary is in terms of light. With Burst, however, I wanted to create almost an inverse of that. The pieces we see here are armatures; dried up bones, mummies, almost dusty. 

I'd been playing with suspension in the studio for a long time, and that too, only came through the previous show. In Burst, the hanging is more complex. It mirrors the suspensions I use to model the pieces in the studio. It’s a performative gesture. 

Exhibition Photo, Burst 2021 © PJ Rountree.

ADB: There's definitely a lot of movement happening here, the pieces are suspended mid-air by elastic threads and hooks that cling to the wall. They're super sensual in the way they move and in the way that they coil between each other. It looks anthropomorphic, like an orgy, literally.  

KR: I'm glad that you're reading something about the movements- I wanted the show to feel active. These pieces kind of look like they are writhing toward you. 

ADB: Yes, I feel very drawn and seduced by them. Some pieces look like they've been glued back together…?

KR: Yes, some broke and we simply put them back together. The whole suspension is very fragile too- everything is only hooked together and held up by tension.  I like the poetic threat that the whole thing can come crashing down at any moment. I’ve been dealing with a lot of death in my family recently. I wondered how grief was going to filter into the work and I think it's in these more radical decisions. There's more honesty when you eliminate trying to hide the fact that it's been broken. 

ADB: I feel like the idea of permanence is one of the most invasive constructs of heteropatriarchy and that you challenge it through this non-literal visual representation of the female body.

KR: I'm curious about permanence, it bothers me a lot. It feels sort of like this big lie. I mean, we're all trying to live in some sort of suspension of reality not to go nuts. 

ADB: Definitely. There's been a lot of debate and controversy in the last two years about monuments and what they represent, why are they still standing there, if the values they uphold are no longer our values, you know, socially, culturally.  I would say monuments are the most obvious material translation of how permanence can be understood as a major patriarchal construct.  

KR: Yeah, I couldn't agree more.

ADB: You were telling me that you already sold some of the works in the show. That's great news. It means that some people are drawn to impermanence.

KR:  Yes, including broken ones. They’re put back together with a pole dance trick, actually, using super glue with baking soda sprinkled in, the stripper shoe fix. If your shoes break, you use this mix and they're invincible. It’s really alchemy- the pieces are welded back together. I like the bubbly glue-  it negates some of the slickness, the self-satisfaction. It evidences impermanence while making the work more mutant.

ADB: There’s a strong element that I see both in your work and your personal life, which is, as you mentioned: suspension. You’re a lady of the air. I'm telling you, the first time I saw a picture of you, you were just soaring up on a pole. Now your pieces are floating here. 

KR: I always get into things really intensely for a period of time as research, but I don't think of it as such. It's just an interest. Pole dance is something I haven’t talked about much in interviews before, but it has influenced me. I don't think I would have been able to arrive at a conclusion like this without having changed my center of gravity so much.  

ADB: How do you relate the experience of the female body with suspension? 

KR: There's something about being put on display, for sure. But I’m more interested in how suspension suggests a spirit or a ghost. It has to do with fabric too, because a floating fabric or a disembodied garment is a ghost in many cultures around the world.  

Exhibition Photo, Burst 2021 © PJ Rountree.

ADB: That brings me to my next question. How does your intellectual interest in fashion inform your practice as a visual artist?

KR: The body I'm interested in has everything to do with clothing, but there’s a more literal answer. I started modelling clay bodies with fabric. That's how I started to get into this language. At first, they were sort of these blobs, but a morphic Freudian element starts to emerge in asking what it is, exactly. There’s a relationship to how we move, to the scale of the body in those works. So I just kept going with it, you know? I've always wondered if there's other ways to conceptualize the body, other than the parceling up and making of interchangeable parts. I'm not saying I'm against plastic surgery or prostheses or anything like that. I am interested, rather, in a conversation about how we might be conditioned to perceive ourselves as something that can be remade, bit by bit.

ADB: What about the color of the walls here? I just love this color. It feels like the inside of our organs. This is the color that I think the inside of our throats or of our stomach looks like. 

KR: I think a lot about color. I was going for an undefined, ambiguous innard color, like fleshy but not flesh itself. The idea of choosing one color to represent something that is wet and variegated and dimensional, literally its own universe is pretty arrogant, and abstract and Modernist, but nevertheless, it works. I was also thinking about what would attract people - it could have been a more putrid color but instead I went for something so saccharin, so candy, it’s Barbie.

ADB: I definitely sense a lot of confidence in this show. It feels spontaneous and playful, like you went for it, had fun, and turned it into an installation that can be understood by just about anybody. Something incredibly seductive that people just stop by the street to look at. 

KR: I locked myself in the gallery - it was intuitive.  The concepts I’d been pushing, the materials I had been experimenting with, it all came together. 

ADB: Welcome to the wonderful world of artistic maturity. 

Reger’s upcoming project with Coco Hunday will debut in April 2022 in Tampa, FL. WM

Adrian de Banville Pineda

Adrian de Banville Pineda (Paris, 1994) holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Policy & Management at Sciences Po Paris, after a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences at the same institution. He has worked in the conception and coordination of art projects since 2017, and has had various professional experiences at institutions like MAD - Museum of Decorative Arts and Bétonsalon - Center for Art and Research (Paris). He is currently Associate Director of Development at Terremoto (Mexico City). Additionally, de Banville has led independent art projects like the 2019 initiative Memoria Danzante, organized in Panama City in collaboration with dance company La Compagnie Yvann Alexandre and Fundación Espacio Creativo. 

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