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For a significant number of years now, contemporary artists have been inspired by legends, popular beliefs, customs, traditions of different cultures; the way to appropriate them and create new myths and new craft. Folklore Contemporain is an investigation into the folkloric heritages and the new folklores of the 2010’s, through the practices of Laura Aldridge, based in Glasgow and Travess Smalley, living in New York. This show addresses the works of those young artists crafting the artefacts of our age with ‘dated techniques’ but contemporary references or contemporary techniques and references from the past.

Nowadays, the ‘curator-folklorist’ has to consider vernacular practices such as GIFs, memes, Clipart creations or Photoshop effects when examining the current mythos. One never finds time to sleep, already busy dealing with pre-existing fables and customs transmitted by all the previous generations of artists. New forms emerge continuously and collectively. Like mythology, art technique evolves without authorship or copyright.

In Sympathy and love for all, Laura Aldridge’s wall-based plexiglass installation, levitating objects seem to appear from the book a young boy holds open in the photograph at the center of the work. In the same way, Laura is translating stories into sculptures, common objects into artworks. Laura’s work shifts between domestic and artistic. Acting as a see-through theatre curtain, Curb to the base, a giant macrame made from rope and anchored by common garden pots, reinforces the ‘decor’ side of the show. Laura’s materials—knotted rope, home dyed fabric and misprinted table-cloths—evoke an expanded version of Laura’s own interior, tinted with fantasy, delicacy and personal experiences.

The contemplative potential of the show’s dream-like peach walls is emphasized by the seven abstract prints on velvet by Travess Smalley (Computer Graphic Texture). Beyond the visual aspect of the rendered image, these works operate as soft disruptions of the digital into the real. The disruption loops back yet again, as the works’ physical material is a lush, vibrant velvet that begs to be touched. Never before has a pixel seemed so dense or so tightly woven. The digital and the physical co-exist, blurring their own borders and challenging the viewer to shed preconceived notions of material vs. code. In comparison to the Computer Graphic Texture pieces, Travess’s series of small plaster and paint vases play the role of real objects primarily transformed into artifacts, ready to spend a second life navigating in the realm of the digital world.

Folklore Contemporain, exploring ceramics, screen printing, computer paintings and macrame, doesn’t aim to document or curate the breadth of contemporary cultural art practices in a scientific or historic way, but to focus on how artists transmit ancestral ‘savoir faire’ through their practice.

Camille Le Houezec & Joey Villemont

Folklore Contemporain: Laura Aldridge & Travess Smalley is the first of a series of 3 exhibitions which will take place over the next two years at SWG3 Gallery.

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