GROTESQUE: THEY MAKE BEAUTIFUL THINGS ABOUT UGLY PEOPLE
Christelle Oyiri


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Oct 27--:--:--

GROTESQUE: THEY MAKE BEAUTIFUL THINGS ABOUT UGLY PEOPLE
Christelle Oyiri

"GROTESQUE: They make beautiful things about ugly people" (2023) follows the wanderings of a life-sized, anthropomorphic object in the Louvre Museum’s collection of Egyptian antiquities. Marginalized by her misshapen appearance, the distorted, mask-like terracotta figurine from the Roman period attracts the gaze of other visitors. A group of friends parading around the museum encounter the sculpture, until they find themselves moved, in front of the glass panes of a collection hall, where they realize their ancestors are none other than the grotesque figurines.

The artist empowers this unsung sculpture to contemplate its own deliberate erasure at the margins of a dominant canon, questioning and satirizing the grotesque as a representation of that which is “ugly” in the classical European collection foundational to the Louvre. Reflecting on her personal experience, Oyiri describes feeling “half triggered” and “half blown away” when encountering the extensive halls of its collection. Across different historical and autobiographical positions, her filmic works sometimes humorously juxtapose the outcomes of this feeling, and codify how warfare (of all scales) is also a visual practice.

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