WORKSHOP - Cité des Arts - Bastienne Kramer


Visiting Bastienne Kramer studio at Cité des Arts in Paris.



IDOLS XS - Bastienne Kramer - 
"IDOLS XL and IDOLS XS are two series of expanding monumental and minuscule images, respectively. They provide a commentary on images of women, ranging from today's cigarette lighters and souvenirs to ancient figurines, some dating back as far as 30 000 years, that are carved in stone or ivory and on display in museums.  

The object's original purpose, whether we are talking about today's kitsch or a prehistoric artifact, is no relevant to me here. I appropriate these images by focusing on their visual features, and then breathe fresh life into them by casting them in different materials and formats. 
Ignoring an item's original context, such as its material, and its historical or political significance, will enable us to explore, both individually and collectively, the signifiante of the 'Venus phenomenon'."
Bastienne Kramer 


IDOLS XS - 
"Using imprints in porcelain or rubber of prehistoric Venus figures, I search for information in different directions. I set out to investigate how the representation of a woman may have affected the maker's decisions about form and size, and distinctions between images of a god and those of a mortal. 
Why do most famous Venus figures have no face, while their jewelry or hairstyles are modelled with great precision ? 
Is a an item of jewelry a hierarchical sign, a mark of respect, or a pre-sexist expression of pin-up model ? 
I constantly encounter different reproductions of the same figurines in which each one highlights a different aspect. Sometimes it is the skin, the size, the color, and sometimes it is the mode of representation : on a stick and a small pedestal in a museum, as a souvenir in the form of a key ring, or processed into a piece of jewelry. 
Who decides about the representation of the object ? Who interprets the subject ? What transformation takes place when I make moulds from the impressions and cast them in porcelain, apart from the fact that porcelain shrinks by a factor of 15% in the kiln ? 
As a series, these figurines represent yet another re-use of a thing, in this case of a signification artefact. 






Besides the Venus figures, IDOLS XS also includes images of women from the 'fun industry', here mainly sexist designs of lighters with fire - breathing tits, women with their pants down, women with noise - making, luminous genitals, preferably woman without a head or face and usually without arms and legs. 
When these images are cast in the same porcelain or rubber, if we omit the lighter function the figures are scarcely distinguishable from ancient figurines of Venus. Some lighters are adorned with jewelry similar to those seen on images of Venus. Here too, questions arise regarding the client who commissioned the object, and the producers and users. 
It is conceivable theta someone actually commissioned the item, for instance the designer/stylist of a company that supplies tourist around the world with knickknacks, but who made the original, and what were the examples or criteria according to which it was modelled ? It seems unlikely that the Museum of Natural History in Vienna would have sent its prehistoric Venus collection to China to have casts made of the figurines there. However, it is quite likely that Chinese women, men and children have made make lighters. Sociologically speaking, we can only hazard a guess as to what kind of cultural exchange such activities represent.