September 2, 2007 - Bonnefantenmuseum - Mai-Thu Perret’s Land of Crystal
September 2, 2007

Mai-Thu Perret’s Land of Crystal


11 September 2007 – 6 January 2008

Avenue Céramique 250,
Postbus 1735, NL-6201 BS Maastricht
Tel. +31 (0) 43 32 90 110
fax +31 (0) 43 32 90 199

As one of the young generation of artists weaving melancholy, satirical but also optimistic stories around the visions and shapes of twentieth-century avant-garde movements, Mai-Thu Perret (1976, Geneva) is an exceptional talent. Her texts are a mixture of historical fact and fiction. In her sculptures and objects, she parodies the history of lofty ideals employing a matter-of-fact ‘I can do that too’ aesthetic. Using papier-mâché figures, ceramic wall reliefs and handmade flags, Perret improvises on classic modernist themes, systematically going beyond the dividing lines between consumer, decorative and autonomous objects. In her exhibition Land of Crystal, Perret visualises that conceptual thinking and the strategy of claiming existing images does not rule out craftsmanship or a sincere conviction in the magic effect of sculpture.
Fictitious story
Mai-Thu Perret has been writing a fictitious story entitled The Crystal Frontier since 1999. Employing part imagined and part annotated diary fragments, letters and texts from handbills, she sketches a kaleidoscopic image of a group of women who have retreated, disillusioned, from the city and from Western, i.e. capitalist, society. They pick up their lives again in the desert of New Mexico but on a different footing with work, nature and themselves.

In addition to this script in the form of texts fragments, Perret’s nascent oeuvre comprises objects of various kinds that she describes as ‘hypothetical products’ of this women’s commune. Included are a series of small ceramic objects, made in 2003, each one produced in the commune workshops. Apocalypse Ballet (2006) is made up of five papier-mâché dummies, three of which are dressed in tunics (designed by Ligia Dias), wearing wigs and neon hoops, and adopting gymnastic poses. The story they tell is layered, reaching from sculptural tradition through constructivist costume design and vintage Hollywood musicals to the 19th-century bourgeois tradition of tableaux vivants.
Land of Crystal
In Land of Crystal, in what she calls an ‘old-fashioned museum presentation’, Mai-Thu Perret examines the role and the function of her fiction in relation to the objects she makes and the museum environment in which they are displayed. The exhibition consists mainly of recent works such as a monumental minimalist sculpture, a life-size papier-mâché group of women with children, her own texts, ceramic wall reliefs, flags and neon lights.
The exhibition was initiated and organised by the Bonnefantenmuseum and will be travelling on to the Neue Kunsthalle St. Gallen (Switzerland).

In association with the Neue Kunsthalle St. Gallen, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago and the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève (CAC), the Bonnefantenmuseum is issuing a richly illustrated artist’s book, published by JRP | Ringier, Geneva. Texts: Mai-Thu Perret, Hamza Walker, Fabrice Stroun, Paula van den Bosch & Giovanni Carmine (interview), 224 pp.
Available from October 2007.
The opening of Land of Crystal is scheduled for Sunday, 9 September at 2 pm.
As an introduction to the exhibition, Mai-Thu Perret will be interviewed by curator Paula van den Bosch.

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