Mai–Thu Perret creates interdisciplinary works that combine the languages of feminism, politics, theatre, nature, religion and art history. The exhibition Zone expands on Perret’s own fictional narrative The Crystal Frontier, which the artist has been writing since 1999, that follows a group of women who form a commune New Ponderosa Year Zero in the remote desert of South Western New Mexico, in an attempt to escape capitalism and patriarchal convention. Perret’s new body of work draws on French avantgarde writer and feminist theorist Monique Wittig’s novel Les Guérillères (first published in 1969) that imagines a society run by a tribe of warrior lesbian women. Wittig’s layered, inter connected style of writing and Dada collage techniques are referenced in the scale and range of works in this exhibition, reflecting Perret’s interest in formal strategies of disruption, combining incongruous elements and materials to explore different histories, political situations and how objects function within and influence the social systems they inhabit.
The exhibition’s title Zone can simultaneously refer to a meditative, mindful space and a war zone. Visitors to the gallery are greeted by an armed, faceless, seated female figure Les guérillères XII, who seemingly acts as an idle guard over a series of new works, including a ceramic fountain, a wicker sculpture, text work and ceramic wall based reliefs (all 2016).