Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest

Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest is a dual-venue exhibition and publication by Los Angeles-based artist Alexandra Grant in collaboration with Paris-based writer Hélène Cixous. This multi-dimensional project, which includes a residency component and contributions by both Los Angeles-based and Paris-based artists, is presented from April 15 to June 28, 2013 at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, CA and from September 6 to October 20, 2013 at Mains d’Oeuvres in Saint-Ouen, France. Pilar Tompkins Rivas, Curator and Director or Residency Programs at 18th Street Arts Center, and Isabelle Le Normand, Curator of Visual Arts at Mains d’Oeuvres, are co-organizers of this project.

 Philippines cover

Project background

Several years ago, the iconic French author, poet, playwright and philosopher Hélène Cixous gave Grant one of her books, Philippines, as a source for imagery and entreated the artist to make work about the concepts present in the text.  Philippines is based around the story of Peter Ibbetson, a novel by Georges du Maurier, where two childhood friends are separated by class and country and reunite as adults in their shared dream-life.  The themes of Philippines are often paired: dreaming and reality; telepathy and empathy; the “perfect other;” the shape of two nuts found in a single mandorla or almond (known as a Philippine); and relationships between north and south, man and woman, colony and colonizer, and adult and child.

 Peter Ibbetson, 1935 – in the world of dreams

Peter Ibbetson, 1935 – in the world of dreams

Grant’s response to Cixous and Philippines is the project Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest centering on the image of a forest as a representation of both the shared imagination and a place for congregation and collaboration.  Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest includes a large-scale installation of a forest and a collaborative drawing that invites community participation. Trees in the interior forest will be made of both text and textiles. The drawing, functioning both as an illustration and a text scroll, represents a visual narrative of Philippines. Created by Grant in conjunction with other artists and members of the public, the process of working jointly invites contemplation of Cixous’s concepts and develops a platform for shared imagining. The two iterations of the installation in both Santa Monica and Saint Ouen function as mirror images, or twin versions of the same whole.

 Ziperstein, Linville and McKenzie

Artists Bari Ziperstein, Tina Linville and Annelie McKenzie

Collaboration with others/Artists Residencies

Grant has created two ways for Los Angeles-based and Paris-based artists to participate in her project. First, collaborating artists are invited to produce “Visiting Trees” (Arbres d’Ailleurs) inside the Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest installation in either city. Second, Grant has established “Drawing Residencies” as part of the process of creating the large-scale drawing. Artists are invited to lead the public, including students, guests and passersby, in 3-hour guided sessions, helping to realize the larger work. Participants to date in the project at 18th Street Arts Center creating “Visiting Trees” include Channing Hansen, Bari Ziperstein, Annelie McKenzie and Tina Linville, and participants in the “Drawing Residencies” include Steve Roden, Renee Petropoulos, Lita Albuquerque and Audrey Cottin. 


At 18th Street Arts Center, Grant and USC professor Robert Nashak will host a reading group beginning in January 2013 for members of the Los Angeles community interested in Cixous’s work.

Programming at Mains d’Oeuvres includes a public lecture by Hélène Cixous, and a reading of Philippines by Cixous’s long-term collaborator, Daniel Mesguich, an actor and director of the Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique. 


18th Street Arts Center and Mains d’Oeuvres will co-publish an exhibition catalog documenting the mirror-image projects of Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest and the collaborative nature of Grant’s work. Contributors to the publication include Alexandra Grant, the curators Isabelle Le Normand and Pilar Tompkins Rivas, Hélène Cixous, Grant’s long-term collaborator, the hypertext pioneer Michael Joyce, and Los Angeles-based art critic Andrew Berardini. The full-color catalog is edited by John Farmer and designed by Jessica Fleischmann and includes texts in both English and French.


For more information contact:


Pilar Tompkins Rivas                                                                    Isabelle Le Normand                                            

18th Street Arts Center                                                               Mains d’Oeuvres

1639 18th Street                                                                           1, rue Charles Garnier

Santa Monica, CA 90404, USA                                                93400 Saint-Ouen, FRANCE                                                          


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