Interview: Lili Reynaud-Dewar

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  • 9 December 2011
Interview: Lili Reynaud-Dewar

Artist on her performance piece that draws on her early ballet training

What first made you want to be an artist?
I’d like to answer that it was the fact of spending hours in the 70s as a toddler in my Dad’s jazz record shop, but actually it wasn’t. I don’t know at all what happened to me. I might have been slightly deranged.

Your new exhibition draws on the relationship between Josephine Baker and Le Corbusier. What first drew you to those artists?
I read about an affair between Le Corbusier and Josephine Baker. It happened during a cruise on a transatlantic boat. Le Corbusier is said to have dressed as Josephine Baker as a way to seduce the African-American star. She told him, ‘What a pity you’re an architect, Monsieur. You’d make a sensational partner.’ I’m fascinated by the story: Le Corbusier dressed as a black dancer, the reunion between the exotic body language of the dancer and the rationale mind of the architect etc … Plus I find Josephine Baker’s way of turning him down quite witty.

This is the first time you’ve made your own body a subject in your work. Was that a difficult decision to make?
I used my body a lot as teenager when I was practising as a ballet dancer. But since then I have preferred using the bodies of people I find fun, interesting looking, and whose company makes me happy, like my friends and family. That said, I like dancing alone in my studio too.

Which other living artist should be better known than they currently are?
By ‘other’ do you suggest I should be better known that I currently am? Should I take this as a dubious compliment? The answer to this question is my husband (a sculptor) and my father (a writer). And also Jason McPhail.

Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Mary Mary, Glasgow, until Sat 14 Jan.

Lili Reynaud-Dewar: Artist Talk and Screening Event

Artist Lili Reynaud-Dewar discusses her upcoming performance piece, which explores Jean Genet's political writings, accompanied by a showing of related films, including Genet's own Un Chant d'Amour. Please note change of date: originally scheduled for Wed 30 Nov, this talk has been moved to Sat 10 Dec, and will be a free…

Lili Reynaud-Dewar: Some objects blackened and a body too

Artist concerned with identities draws on her early ballet training and the iconography of dance for an exhibition consisting of sculptures made largely from found objects, and short video pieces of herself dancing naked in her studio with her body blackened.

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