Louise Bourgeois was born in paris in 1911 and moved to new york in 1938,
where she continued to live and work, until her death in 2010. for over 60 years,
bourgeois worked across disciplines, producing sculptures, drawings, paintings
and prints dealing with personal memory, emotion and the body.
I visited her show at the 17th biennale of sydney.
First made in the 1980s, bourgeois’ ‘cells’ are large sculptural installations that play on
dual ideas of imprisonment and the comfort of enclosure. taking the form of circular
or cube-like cages or rooms, these symbolically rich environments are repositories of
memory and experience, filled with disparate objects such as figurative sculptures,
old clothes, furniture, household items, perfume bottles, wasps’ nests and personal memorabilia.
‘cell (glass, spheres and hands)’ (1990-1993) is a room inhabited by glass bubbles that sit
atop roughly made chairs. their contained form implies alienation and the denial of communication,
while their fragility and close placement suggests a frustrated but silent communion.
on an adjacent table, a pair of marble hands is clasped in despair. an overall impression
of vulnerability marks what could be a prison of the past, but also an attempt to understand
its intricacies and put them in some kind of order.