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Bloody Lipstick, Blooming Dirt
Henry Kitc
Meryl Yana

Curated by Indira Béraud & Marco Galvan
25/11/2023 - 12/01/2024

 Installation_Bloody Lipstick, Blooming Dirt_I.II_Courtesy of the artists & ZÉRUÌ, London.

In 2015, a Canadian newspaper headline read, ‘Drought-hit Californians painting their lawns green.’ Last summer, in France, the mayor of a small village also embraced this trend. To address the issue of drought, he spray-painted the roundabouts in his district, giving them a vibrant green appearance. This practice became so popular that a new market emerged, with several companies now specialising in ‘lawn paint’. Indeed, it yields substantial profit. One could easily laugh about it if the matter were not tragically symptomatic of a human relationship with nature based on the principle of control. Proximity to ‘green spaces’ is highly sought after in cities, under the condition that this comfortable version of nature is maintained, pristine, and controlled – sometimes even adorned with a touch of makeup. In essence, a mainstream idea of the aesthetics of nature persists, leading to the suppression of the very expression of ‘nature’ itself.


The exhibition ‘Bloody Lipstick, Blooming Dirt,’ presented at ZÉRUÌ, brings together Henry Kitcher, Meryl Yana, and the duo Aléa, composed of Stella Lee Prowse and Miriam Josi. Adopting three radically different approaches to technique, the artists delve into the underlying notion of ‘control’ that rules our relationship with the natural environment and its aesthetic. Together, the artworks evoke an urban landscape against the backdrop of a sunset stained with blood.


The gallery floor is covered with Henry Kitcher’s in-situ installation, Ebb and Flow (2023). The bricks, whose pattern echoes that of traditional English pavings, are made from compressed soil. Following a repetitive, almost obsessive process which reminds us of assembly-line production methods, the artist’s gesture inquires the manufacture of landscapes. The persistent nature of the reproduced object contrasts with the fragile organicity of the artworks, whose texture and colours evolve over time. Ebb and Flow acts as a constraining device, directing visitors’ movements.


Aléa’s installation, BTD N.1 (2023), also produced in-situ, takes its place in the centre of the gallery: a mound of earth from which buildings of mycelium are sprouting and growing. The process of myco-fabrication usually occurs in laboratories or other such sterile environments to isolate the organisms and prevent contamination. Moving away from this approach, and from the use of conventional tools, the duo has adopted a ‘dirty’ process that allows the mycelium to thrive. They would let it evolve spontaneously within the ground instead of confining it in plastic moulds. The work was installed about ten days before the exhibition’s opening to allow it time to ‘grow’. This innovative technique, which involves treating the material as a collaborator, gives rise to unexpected forms. To the rear of the gallery is a small room that the artists have taken over. Transformed into a cabinet of curiosities, it gathers their research on this experimental design practice: drawings, notes, and small totems detail their process. 


Meryl Yana showcases a new series of paintings on paper. Shades of intense red predominate. Dense, the texture is almost rough, similar to a crust of dried blood. Elsewhere, we can observe diluted dots of colours; they resemble gentle explosions or blossoms. To achieve such results, the artist used a carmine-red pigment from Morocco. The papers, which she makes herself and submits to the external environment, are regarded as pieces of skin, affected by winds and rainfall before they dry in the sun. Roughness arises, the material withers, and tiny wrinkles appear, crisscrossing the surface. The process involves a self-indulgent, slow temporality of creation, allowing forms to gradually emerge.


The exhibition, designed as a landscape of oxymorons, unfolds in an interplay of tensions. Some pieces recount a relationship that is both commercial and objectifying, where the object's purpose dominates the process of fabrication. Others, on the contrary, aim to activate and celebrate the agency of the raw material rendering it fully visible.


Indira Béraud

BTD installation No.I, Aléa
Ebb and Flow, Henry Kitcher 
To Reclaim Resilience, Meryl Yana
Recognising the wounds in each other, Meryl Yana
Observation study N.9, Aléa
Observation study N.10, Aléa
Erroneous Hosts I-IX, Meryl Yana
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