This exhibition shares its title, Djelem Djelem, with a work composed of a wicker wheel affixed to the wall, moving slowly in accordance with the tone of the exhibition: circle, cycle, land and nomadism.
Rachel Labastie’s link with the land is twofold: on the one hand, as a ceramicist, she uses earth, or different types of earth, to sculpt, on the other hand, land is also a field of exploration the artist investigates. Labastie creates strange maps in which a circle evokes both the body of the wandering individual, following the winds and currents, as well as the circular, sedentary, always hard-working motion of those who work the land. Through her tools in raw earth that become sculptures, the artist evokes this world, while the Stivali (Boots), which should allow us to walk on and in the earth, are too heavy, rendering a sensation of the body’s immobility.
The same thing happens for Intralcio (Obstruction), one of Rachel Labstie’s most famous works: a sequence of white porcelain rings bind to one another, expressing constriction, the immobilized body and inner and mental prisons.
Perhaps we need to recall here that the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger, having found the secret of porcelain, spent the rest of his life isolated to satisfy the needs of a Saxon gentleman?
And finally, the Mani (Hands), joined, also form a mysterious circle, hidden, maybe magical. Do they promise a way out? In reality, when humans decide to take care of the earth, they necessarily become its slave. Nomadism is maybe the only way out, the one for which the Hands are in prayer. Djelem Djelem …
Rachel Labastie’s work addresses universal sentiments, this is the Story of every one of us, and asks the fundamental question of the human condition with subtle modesty. Where do we come from, where are we going, how are we all connected to the Earth?