Exhibition view, Doll House Blues, 2024. Photo Julien Gremaud.

Audrey Guttman

Doll House Blues Solo Show

January 19th - February 22nd 2024

With Doll House Blues, Audrey Guttman offers an elaborate body of new work that keenly situates “the doll house” as a figurative site of intimacy and spectacle, ultimately dissecting the mechanisms of beauty and façade.

Audrey Guttman, Possession vaut titre, 2023, Cyanotype, 29.5 x 21 cm.

Guttman wields blue cyanotype prints, collage, mixed media and sculpture to challenge our fractured performances of self—positioning “the doll house” as the metaphorical nucleus where these multiplicities converge.

Audrey Guttman, Zéro défaut, 2023, Collage on paper, 25.4 x 20.4 cm.

The show asks: How do we flee the confining “houses” of self, of performance, of scrutiny? It also considers the prospect of escape, wondering: How might we subvert those boundaries and smash their walls?

Audrey Guttman’s boldly multidisciplinary practice is buoyed by the vocabulary of collage, a medley of mediums, and in-depth research that offer her a vast web of visual and theoretical references. Doll House Bluesepitomizes her aim to entwine fragments and forge meaning in the process of making and unmaking.

Audrey Guttman, Dispositif politique compact, 2023, Archival pigment print, 80 x 121.

For example, Guttman made cyanotype prints on lace doilies—adorning the home décor with hauntingly ethereal figures—to unify the show’s themes of domesticity, beauty and pretense. 

Further, the “Valley of the Dolls” installation features twenty “dolls” assembled using debris like found driftwood, sea urchins and shells. Instead of fashioning dolls from typical plastic, Guttman resists the aesthetics of conventional beauty and constructs organic figurines far realer than any Barbie.

Exhibition view, Doll House Blues, 2024. Photo Julien Gremaud.

Exhibition view, Doll House Blues, 2024. Photo Julien Gremaud.

In “Fountain” Guttman molds an uncanny arrangement of synthetic hair—a symbol of erotic power—into an ironic “fountain” of youth. By meticulously rearranging raw materials, Guttman erects her own visual language.

This language contains echoes of philosophy. In 1999 French artist-activists Tiqqun introduced the “Young-Girl” as a theoretical symbol for an eager and passive participant of a tragically capitalist society. Guttman thoroughly researched Tiqqun’s concept to create works for this show, in which the “Young Girl” protagonist basks in newfound autonomy.

Audrey Guttman, Philosophie de la modernité, 2023, Cyanotype on lace doily, 30 x 22 cm.

Guttman’s “Young-Girl” denounces the arbitrary boundaries of beauty and bodies—things often dictated by capitalist whims. For example, in “C'est quoi un bon coup?” a falsely docile figure casts her red-adorned self in a dreamscape of mollusks. Moreover, “Philosophie de la modernité” challenges the bounds of the mirror by flashing a sly smile; the lipstick in “I, underneath” defiantly eschews perfection; and the close-up eye in “Philosophie de l'amour” reminds us of its function beyond beauty.

Lastly, the brazen breast in “Moi & mes seins, mon nombril, mes jambes” and the exhibitionism of “My capricious little capri maiden” audaciously defy doll-like compliance. Through a long process of accumulating layers, Audrey Guttman’s strenuous compositions mine the world to make meaning. 

Exhibition view, Doll House Blues, 2024. Photo Julien Gremaud.

Exhibition view, Doll House Blues, 2024. Photo Julien Gremaud.

Doll House Blues embodies her aim to assemble profound works that break free from the scrutiny of society’s relentless eye. Notably, nestled among the works is an original poem by Guttman. Poetry is a vital form for Guttman, who calls it “the hot pulsating heart of life.” She writes: “No more of these doll-like faces and busts and lips.” By anchoring her show within the figurative “doll house”, Guttman dares us to dream beyond its walls. Doll House Blues encourages us to escape the confines of a society that wants us to shrink our full selves into consumable canapés. Audrey Guttman urges us to witness the living, breathing beauty that surrounds and resides in us. And she reminds us that art is a balm we can use to forge selves that are whole, rooted and undeniably real.

Leila Renee

Exhibition view, Doll House Blues, 2024. Photo Julien Gremaud.

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