French artist Ingrid Berthon-Moine subverts the male gaze by subjecting the male body to the same scrutiny that is traditionally paid to the female. She uses a humorous and mischievous touch to examine the construction of identity and its behavioural consequences in our society.
Berthon-Moine works in photography, sculpture, paint and drawing. Recently she took part in Open Space Contemporary‘s Kitchen Takeover. In Sinking Feeling, she explored food within the context of feminism, sexual politics and the human body. Goldsmiths graduate Berthon-Moine lives and works in London.
WIA: What are you doing today?
Ingrid Berthon-Moine: Multitasking and procrastinating.
WIA: Tell us about your creative process.
IB-M: It is always difficult to pin down the creative process. It can be a conversation, an article in the press, an image, a text, anything really. Sometimes the idea pops up straight away, other times it will need more development ; and depending on the medium, carrying out tests until I am satisfied with the results. It can be either very fast or painfully slow. You can never know.
WIA: Describe where you do most of your creative work.
IB-M: Anything messy is made at the studio. Drawings are usually done at home on the kitchen table because of the good light I have there.
WIA: What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
IB-M: I guess it’s always the current one as it is full of possibilities. I really enjoyed working on the final piece for my MA degree show ‘Looking At a Lack of Perspective’. It involved a cut out photograph of my face looking at a flaccid penis in front of the phallic towers of the City of London. It was a lot of fun and a very satisfying project.
WIA: What made you decide to become an artist?
IB-M: I was very into craft as a child, always making stuff with fabric, beads, papier mâché. As a teenager I picked up a camera and embraced photography. I started working in all sorts of creative industries like graphic design and fashion both in Paris and London until I realized that I was on the wrong side of the business and decided to go back to study photography and art in London. It has been a sinuous journey but I found my way in the end and at the right time.
WIA: What are you currently working on?
IB-M: I am working on a series of sculptures depicting various female characters. It is the beginning and I am very excited about it and would like to create a piece of music to go with it. Considering my lack of musical skills, it should be… interesting. Thanks to the lockdown I have started working with text more and I would like to do a small publication including some drawings. I also collaborate on a series of drawings with Joe Ridgeon, an artist and tattooist. We both share a liking of drawing genitals, mine are abstract and floppy while his are figurative and hard, it is an interesting combination! And I always draw a lot, no matter what, so drawings are piling up in the house right now.
WIA: Do you listen to music while you work, and if so, what’s your soundtrack?
IB-M: I work in silence. Sometimes the odd podcast when the little voice in my head becomes too intense and I need a healthy diversion.
WIA: What are the key themes in your work?
IB-M: The de/construction of gender identity and its behavioural consequences in our society. The human body as a sensitive receptor, a source of information and power but please read, dicks, balls, tits, vag, labs, clit in all states of excitement, tumescence, and wetness.
WIA: What would you like people to notice in your work?
IB-M: How it tickles them in all the right places. The humour, the melancholy beneath it and its integrity.
WIA: What attracts you to the mediums you work in?
IB-M: Fabric and soft materials because I used them as a kid and the various textures they offer to play with. Drawing because it is entering a meditative space. Text because of the effect that the combination of simple words can achieve. Photography I do take lots of photos, on my mobile though.
WIA: What equipment could you not do without?
IB-M: Glasses, sadly.
WIA: Who or what inspires you?
IB-M: Amber, Marcia M, Helen K, Val F, Paule BM, Jeanne M, Valentine M, Barbara G, Huma K, Lizzie N, Louise B, Valie E, Eva H, Maelle G, Lali, Alice C, Jes F, Vicky R, Alexandria OC, Penny G, Zoe W, Ros G, Audre L, Janet C, Lindy H, Gerry M, Maggie N, Eileen M, Carol R, Ceri H, Alice C, Ruth W, Estelle B, Jessica M, Emily S, Athena P, Dawn Z, Camille B, and all the ones who will inspire me in the future and that I have not met yet.
WIA: How does gender affect your work?
IB-M: My main interest in gender identity dates back to the school benches of France. A very old grammatical rule stipulates that in terms of plural adjectives, the masculine always overcomes the feminine as ‘the male gender is more (k)noble’. So from the tender age of 6, you are being taught that you have less value than a male. That’s wrong. Also, the missing experience of women’s lives throughout the centuries in art, literature, science and philosophy, well everywhere. We can wonder what the world would have looked like through the gaze of women if they had been allowed to express themselves freely. What did they see that men did not? How would the world be now?
WIA: What’s your favourite gallery, or place to see or experience art?
IB-M: Other artist studios for a visit, no matter what their practice is. You are immersed in their world, you discuss their work and I find it very stimulating.
WIA: If you could own one piece of art, what would it be and why?
IB-M: The Venus of Dolní Věstonice, one of the oldest Paleolithic statuettes. She looks a bit scary, like she is wearing an iron helmet, but she makes me laugh as well. I also remember being able to hold a beautiful polished Paleolithic hatchet once. I was very overwhelmed by the thought that, centuries apart, the maker and I touched the same object, a very powerful and sensual experience.
WIA: If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be, and why?
IB-M: Oh no, it’s an impossible choice. Maybe the solution would be to collaborate on a giant Cadavre Exquis with all the women artists I like, respect, refer to. The corpse would be patriarchy!
WIA: Is there an artist, movement or collective you’d like to see re-evaluated, or a contemporary artist who is underrated?
IB-M: Alice Guy-Blaché was one of the first cinema directors, she directed thousands of films, only a few survived. She invented the close-up technique and was a pioneer of the female gaze in cinema. In ‘Madame a des envies’, the pregnant woman has cravings of all sorts and Guy magnified this by doing close-ups of the woman putting things in her mouth and clearly enjoying it. She invites us to feel the desire, the pleasure that Madame experiences. Alice Guy is sadly overlooked and she needs to be given the place that she deserves in cinema history.
Also I really enjoy Jennifer Higgie’s Bow Down Instagram account and podcast. Higgie excavates unknown women artists through the centuries enabling them to receive the recognition they deserve and for us to discover some amazing female talents.
WIA: What’s your favourite colour
IB-M: My daughter’s eye in the sun, it’s like green tweed.
For more info:-
Social media: insta – @ingridberthonmoine