For her first solo show, Flora Citroën (b. Paris, 1990) refers to Kanye West’s lyrics Everything I’m not made me everything I am.
The installation -a glittery cave, a smokable ceramic hookah, a collection of handmade fanny packs, a curtain, and an 11 minutes video- explores the awkwardness of the idea of identity we are surrounded by in the cultural industry, as an artist, as a woman.
What is the limit of one can or cannot be? What are the socio-cultural criteria a self is or is not?
The room is welcoming, we feel like in a cocoon, in a poetized hookah lounge set up for discussion.
Citroën invites in her place, talking from her bed, exposing herself by using a confessional form of video, fortunately devoided of any kind of narcissism.
The video, essential in the installation, approaches the identity crisis both in a societal and individual scale.
How can artist respond to the many injunctions leading to self-censorship?
How to deal with the authoritarian social label the artist is given and how to deconstruct the power conferred to the artist?
She answers with the idea of testing, an adolescent pattern, establishing a link between the identity and adolescent crisis.
Citroën uses naivety (honesty) as a weapon. Putting her on stage, blathering a loop of ramified thoughts- nonetheless well constructed- directly from her mind. The sound is not loud, she convenes rather than summons the viewer, going from « (…) cultural appropriation is like the Godwin point of culture » through « I create surprises for me… for later, like a dog hiding its candy » to « tropism is an accurate word, its a reaction; here, I’m a reaction ».
While watching the video, the viewer can hear behind their back some whispered small talk around the smoking hookah, a gadget-situation opposed to the raw intimacy of the video. A soft violence emanates from this gap.
Citroën does not stage herself as a pretty made up Instagrammer (even though the story format is used), she creates a self exposure without any windrow dressing, as opposed to the culture of beauty women are notwithstanding confronted to. She achieves a disabling lightness tone making the installation a brave committed statement.
Allowing herself to disclose her identity, Citroën actually dissects the polyvalent attributes young artists have to work with. Those many roles they have to embrace, the « do or die » lex. The « do » includes here besides the work itself, self promotion, address, curatorial dimension, commercial one and a stepping up of the artist for their work.
Everything I am is a warm disillusioned acknowledgment packed in a lot of hope.