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Stalin. Toy Stories

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Stalin. Toy Stories Photograph - Limited Edition of 25

Etienne Clément

United Kingdom

Photography, C-type on Paper

Size: 11.8 W x 11.8 H x 0 D in

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Artist Recognition

link - Showed at the The Other Art Fair

Showed at the The Other Art Fair

link - Artist featured in a collection

Artist featured in a collection

About The Artwork

In Toy Stories, the photographs, also set in vacant, dilapidated buildings, fasten their gaze on more tangible but unexpected presences. Reversing the conventional studio portrait format of placing the real-life subject against an idealized, fake background such as painted clouds or a rural idyll, Clément has used all-too-real, troubled environments as the backdrop for a series of very unconventional, mass produced figures. The effect is darkly comic and, occasionally, disturbing. The subjects are tiny, secondhand toy figures, each of which must once have represented some kind of ideal for its young owner but have since gone astray. Close up, their flaws are revealed, in the approximation of their painted features and plastic physiologies. By photographing children’s figurines in these empty and abandoned places, in these ‘imported’ film sets, and by combining both portraiture and architecture, Clément is staging imaginary untold stories. They are the very stories he once made up as a child, playing at home, his imagination released, having just returned from the forbidden derelict building nearby. The work is about regaining childhood, where imagination rules in a world without rules. Whether seen just as toys with a story to tell or as something less innocent, Clément’s subjects take photographic portraiture into a bizarre new sphere.

Details & Dimensions

Photography:C-type on Paper

Artist Produced Limited Edition of:25

Size:11.8 W x 11.8 H x 0 D in

Shipping & Returns

Delivery Time:Typically 5-7 business days for domestic shipments, 10-14 business days for international shipments.

“We all live in the world as we imagine it, as we create it.” Andrei Tarkovsky / Nostalghia. When it comes to creative play, there are two types of children. Those who build structures, be they complex towers in their minds or structures with Meccano, and those who build stories; not that the two are mutually exclusive but in play they often polarise. The child’s theatre, a cardboard interior often made in the form of a pop-up book, becomes the ultimate non-architectural space. It is all innards and no architectonic structure. It is all dress and no frame, whilst the Meccano tower is the essence of rationalised integrity with little space for humanity. This of course is an unacceptable dichotomy. Etienne Clément’s intensely alluring but deviously complex works weave these two types of play together. The formal drama of architecture abuts the personal and political allegories of his play-mobile-esque narratives. They jar, when Clément wants them to and then merge in a tricksy fashion when he wants to entice the viewer into closer communion. Clément is a ‘storysmith’. Ingredients for his narratives are both fact and fiction. It allows him to make up stories, to ‘start’ legends in any particular place he chooses. He builds up stories combining either solid and verified historical events or mythological/biblical themes and outright pure invention. The outcome, a new story where the fact/fiction boundaries are blurred. His works investigate the legendary, creating narratives that are never being entirely believed by the viewer, but also never being resolutely doubted. They examine the suspended state of uncertainty. Visually they displace the viewer, disrupting their perception of ‘real’ or ‘unreal’, ‘staged’ or ‘un-staged’. His theatres become a place to freely construct, a site for play and an area of experimentation. His carefully constructed tableaux provide selective reference points to the real world, making it increasingly difficult for viewers to understand their position within that world and thus creating a displaced sense of certainty. Miniature figures inhabit Clément’s tableaux. Most are plastic, the sexiness of plastic mixing with its pathetic ephemerality. However, once the figures are enlarged and taken from their symbolic, generic meaningless and given their place at the centre of the melodrama, a change takes place. From their mass produced absurdity, via the depth of their surface, emerges a certain profundity.

Artist Recognition

Showed at the The Other Art Fair

Handpicked to show at The Other Art Fair presented by Saatchi Art in London, London, London, London, London, London, London

Artist featured in a collection

Artist featured by Saatchi Art in a collection

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