Throughout history, the body has always been deemed as a place of abjection, particularly with regards to the female form. Alix Marie’s artwork strives to make us come to terms with our own bodily experiences, forcing us to face what is natural. Breaking away from the narrow western capitalist standards of beauty advertising, Alix aims to “picture bodies genuinely,” she says. “I don’t understand why a scar or a stretch mark has to be considered ugly or disturbing. We all bear witness to events on our skin, and I think it’s important to consider and represent them”. At times grotesque, and definitely enough to make the viewer squeamish, Alix displays magnificent magnified images of the skin — deep purple bruises, pink, plush pimples, wet lips and dried, cracked blemishes.
The body, marking the boundary between our exterior and interior, self and other, has always been a subject of much philosophical debate. Alix’s recent project La Femme Fontaine explores the idea of fluids and their connection to the “feminine symbolic,” the artist points out. “Some of the origins of sexism in antiquity can be found in the idea of control of one’s own body”, she explains. “The woman was a lesser human being because she could not control her fluid secretion”. La Femme Fontaine combines mythology with contemporary issues, like much of Alix’s work. The installation references the myth of Niobe, “a woman transformed into a crying stone”, representative of the artist’s heartbreak at the time. Alix cast parts of her own body, using concrete, “a material originally discovered during the Roman Empire,” and placed the parts among tubes, liquids and steam. However, wanting to play on various interpretations of the term Female Fountain, Alix not only eludes to tears but also “the French term for squirting, banned in the UK in 2014 from pornographic films”.
As Alix’s work is about recreating bodily experiences, it is deeply sensual; she wants her viewers to respond with feeling. Refusing to choose between “the eye and the hand”, the artist combines both sculpture and photography in a manner that emphasises touch. “I thought of the photograph as object”, Alix tells It’s Nice That. “I was very interested in the similarities between the surface of the skin and the surface of the print. I wanted to test the reaction to the act of damaging the print; it felt like cutting through an image of the body was sometimes like cutting through the body itself”. Drawn to this idea of tactility, Alix is thoughtful in her choice of materials. “I like that people often want to (and do) touch my work”, she explains. “When making my first book with Morel books, I printed the cover on PVC plastic, a material I used in one of my installations. It is the opposite of what you’d expect from a book cover; it is soft, sticky and malleable”. Alix’s highly visceral works are all about breaking ideals and expectations, and instead, encourage the spectator to celebrate what is healthy and natural.