Simone Decker

Simone Decker

LiFE – submarine base in Saint-Nazaire

Photo by Simone Decker, 2011.

June 22, 2011

Simone Decker
24 June–28 August 2011

Curator: Sophie Legrandjacques, Director of Le Grand Café, Saint-Nazaire contemporary art centre

Thursday 23 June at 19:30

LiFE – International Space for Emerging Arts, Saint-Nazaire (F)
Base des sous-marins, Alvéole 14
Boulevard de la Légion d’Honneur
44600 Saint-Nazaire, France

Every day from 11:00 to 19:00 except on Monday
Admission free


Simone Decker’s works are magical incursions into reality that draw on space, matter and perceptual games. While the artist has an instinctive approach to a site, her installations, sculptures or photographs nevertheless develop via some extremely rational procedures. Optical illusions, playing with scale and unexpected materials: these are the tools that Simone Decker handles with dexterity, modifying points of view, tricking the body and transforming the relationship between the spectator and space.

Huge chewing gum sculptures in the streets of Venice (Chewing in Venice, 1999), fifty kilometres of coloured sticky tape in the Delme Synagogue (White Noise, 1999), twelve phosphorescent ghosts cast from the statues of Luxembourg City (Ghosts, 2004), an exhibition space entirely covered in red latex (Untermieter, 1997)—the artist’s constructions bear witness to a way of occupying space that is inventive, spectacular and always experimental. For the strict dialogue she enters into with a site is rather like one body researching another: she moulds its print, she prevents access to it or, contrarily, gives it adhesive qualities to capture the visitor. She upsets the order (the relationships of scale, vanishing points, perspective); ultimately, she willingly reveals the illusory nature of our representations. She responds to all the grand questions that she raises (the intimate and the public, the maquette and the monumental, the false and the true) with playful grace. For Simone Decker’s work have a light-footed gravity and an impertinent pertinence: she hides their complexity behind a visual impact and never holds back on pleasure.

On this double mode, intuitive and analytic, ludic and conceptual, at LiFE the artist is showing us her singular vision of the submarine base, a gigantic ‘dark’ monument of the Second World War. The outsized architecture being ‘digested’ by the town, a little at a time, becomes the object of a surprising formal rereading that is physical, metaphorical and … lip smacking. In the centre of the exhibition, like a delicacy, stands a monumental sculpture that Simone Decker imagined as supple and sensual, accessible to the public who are invited to experience, touch and feel the forms of the work.

In counterpoint to and in dialogue with this out-sized foam sculpture, the artist invests the “flesh” of the base itself: fifteen insertions married to the cracks of the building, discrete incrustations made from dental ceramic. Both precious ornamentation and therapeutic dressings, these micro-prostheses are an invitation to discover the architecture intimately: its thickness is scrutinised, its autonomous material life is held up close. A particular temporality of its own can then come about, no longer History but of the body: the aging of the concrete, its chalky leaks, the light piercing its fissures become so many revelations born out of the artist’s gestures. In this way she spins out her gourmet metaphor, whereby the base is considered as a mouth—of a monster?—suggesting unexpected sensory approaches.

With these unique commissions, Simone Decker pursues her intimate interrogation of space, deepens her exploration of materials and confirms that art and its reception are definitively worthwhile experiences of appropriation.

LiFE – International Space for Emerging Arts, Saint-Nazaire (F)
Base des sous-marins, Alvéole 14
Boulevard de la Légion d’Honneur – 44600 Saint-Nazaire – France
T +33 (0)2 28 54 99 45 /

Simone Decker
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LiFE – submarine base in Saint-Nazaire
June 22, 2011

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