The Swiss sculptor, known for giving form to utopian narratives and making feminist fantasy tactile, takes an unexpected classical turn.
MAI-THU PERRET SURPRISED HERSELF recently by producing a quasi-classical statue. Debuting this week at the Frieze Art Fair in New York, it’s a startling object: an updated version of the goddess Diana, standing straight-backed, made in ceramic except for the hands, which are finely cast in bronze. The sleek 5-foot-tall figure wears a sheath dress resembling a tunic, and her feet are clad, incongruously, in sneakers. But the strangest touch is an agglomeration of breast-like lumps around her midsection, a surreal motif drawn from another ancient source: the Ephesian Artemis, a fertility deity.
Diana’s uncanny quality is not what Perret finds surprising. It is, rather, the idea of creating a traditional statue at all. During her more than twenty years of making sculpture—with mannequins, clay, neon, and other materials—the Swiss artist has studiously avoided conventional figurative modes, preferring instead the messier arena of found objects and contingent art-making, aslant conventional models of artistic authorship.