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Le Spectre
et la main

2012

David Altmejd talks about the work Le Spectre et la main

Coconut is like a seed, or an egg, or even like a head. And there’s a space inside. So I just feel like it’s reminiscent of a lot of forms in my work. And it’s a way of integrating humour. It’s always using a kind of slapstick. You can see one falling on the head of a person but never killing him, just making the person dizzy. There is something cartoony about coconuts, something monkey-like. And there is also something serious about them, almost creepy or alien.

David Altmejd, in “David Altmejd” / interview with Daniel Kunitz, Modern Painters, vol. 23, no. 8 (Nov. 2011), p. 16.

Plexiglas, coconuts, epoxy clay, epoxy resin, thread, resin, metal wire, horsehair, acrylic paint

Private collection

Le Spectre
et la main

2012

Le Spectre et la main: It was the first time that I made such a large piece in that series of Plexiglas boxes. And it was the first time also that I made something that was really, confidently figurative. My first idea was to represent a bunch of zebras that are running and that are bombarded by a swarm of coconuts that sort of make them explode in thread, in a way. Which sounds like a very chaotic idea, but my goal was to be able to create an elegant movement inside of that chaotic idea.

You know, when you step back and you look at that piece from a distance, and you see the zebras and you see the movement – when I make the piece, I am close to it. And what the piece is, actually, is an immense series of technical problems. I consider myself a kind of really trashy engineer and most of my time, maybe 90% of my time, is just to find a way of attaching a little piece of Plexi that’s going to hold a little thread, and then that yellow thread, where is it going to go now from that point? Oh, it can’t go anywhere; I am going to need to attach another piece of Plexi to make sure that it can turn. So the playfulness of the whole, of the zebras running through a swarm of coconuts, I kind of forget about it when I am working. But those technical problems that I’m telling you I have to solve every time I am working, and I am building the whole thing, those technical problems – I see them as a game. Solving technical problems, for me, is a game. So the playfulness that you see when you step back, the playfulness of the whole piece, I believe that it’s really present also in every detail when I am making the piece. It’s kind of the same. Of course, the viewer is going to see playfulness in the whole, but I see playfulness almost at the cellular level, it’s in there.