dandelion menace by Claude Eigan
solo exhibition, June 2021
at Artemis Fontana, Paris (FR)
dandelion menace is Claude Eigan’s first solo exhibition in France. It is based on the presence of plants, forming three families: the “bouquets of fists”, “shield-corolla”, and “wolf-trap-leaves”, which are all connected to the central figure of the taraxacum that gives the exhibition its title. Commonly known as pissenlit (“pee-in-bed”) in French, in tribute to their diuretic abilities, this plant with cleansing properties is also known as dandelion owing to its jagged leaves and dense yellow ruff. In their own way, the artworks presented at Artemis Fontana’s gallery all trace the artist’s emotional coordinates. The fists of his ex-girlfriends and loved ones compose the interlacing horns of plenty of the series soft and stone and high, 2020, chimeric presences oscillating between flora and aquatic life: now plants, now mermaids. The contours of Berlin’s paving stones occupy the series under no kings, 2020, made of mural works installed in a defensive formation. Straps allow these to be worn on the arms while brandishing white and mauve fleur-de-lis, arranged upside-down in a reversal of the royal and religious emblem. Finally, the coordinates of LGBTQIA+ social spaces that the artist supports adorn the mocking jaws of dandelion leaves in the series pissed, 2020, alongside communal slogans and symbols.
Here, the flowers have left their lascivious attitudes and have sharpened up, ready to stab, defend, or attack. Like the stele of the code of Hammurabi dedicated to the adage “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” in Babylon, Claude Eigan’s artworks appropriate the famous “Bash Back!” of the Pink Panthers Patrol: they assert rage as a political arena and work on the continuum of threats, violence, and retribution, from a minority position. These flowers of resilience come to represent a garden of self-defence, in which the dialectic between the representation of violence and violent action is deployed like the two sides of a labrys, the double-headed axe used by the Minoan civilisation as a religious symbol. Historically associated with the Amazons, it was adopted in the 1970s as a symbol by lesbian feminist movements.
Violence lurks around dandelion menace like a hollow threat, residing in the anticipation of its implementation rather than its action. It is a disarmed threat and the imminence of a different future that pervades Claude Eigan’s exhibition. Claude retains nothing of the solar, royal, and male symbol of the lion, supposed to honour the plant it resembles, preferring the lively and urban characteristics of the pissenlit: capable of growing between cracks in the concrete, the paving stones of streets, and even through tar. In a post-humanist perspective, the exhibition advocates the definition of complex, inclusive, and shifting political subjects, taking stock of the vulnerability of bodies, and convoking a future in which rage, violence, and anger will get the better of waning historical cultural practices.
photo credits: Margot Montigny
graphic design: Claude Eigan