A conversation between Camille Henrot and Dean Kissick
On the occasion of an exhibition of new work, “Sweet Days of Discipline,” at the Lokremise museum in St. Gallen, Switzerland, Camille Henrot welcomes the critic Dean Kissick into her New York studio for a wide-ranging conversation about art, authority, failure and the “counterfactual” space of childhood.
“A lot of the work has to do with a sense of failure and mistake and how to use objects and how to proceed with them—looking at the way a toddler would try to force a shape into the wrong hole … there’s no reason to think about things with just one solution. There are always multiple solutions.”—Henrot
The exhibition “Sweet Days of Discipline” is on view at Lokremise St. Gallen through 5 November 2023.
Camille Henrot draws on numerous references from literature, psychoanalysis, cartoons, poetry, social media, and the banality of everyday life. Her sculptural, painterly and cinematic work looks at dynamics of human dependency, individual responsibility and societal concerns in an increasingly connected and over-stimulated world.
Dean Kissick is a writer and lives in New York. He is a contributing editor of Spike Art Magazine and also hosts the Seaport Talks, a monthly series of conversation with critics at the bar T.J. Byrnes.
Camille Henrot’s first solo exhibition in Switzerland, "Sweet Days of Discipline" features a large-scale installation of over thirty works made in bronze, aluminum, steel wool, wax and reflective fabric—with many created specifically for the show. The installation is organized like a playground of sorts; a site of diversion, care, abandon, detritus and pending chores. Central to the installation are the symbols, figures and emblems of delegated care in our lives: from the nanny, the dogwalker, the kindergarten teacher, the babysitter, to more abstract notions of time management, such as the calendar, the contract and other administrative documents. The space at Lokremise is transformed into a heterotopia—a space functioning within its own rules and regulations—where there is a simultaneous potential for both play and danger, attention and forgetfulness.
The exhibition borrows its title from Swiss-Italian author Fleur Jaeggy’s novel of the same name. Its themes related to coming of age and alienation are felt throughout the installation. For Henrot, the sweet days of discipline are not only experienced by those growing and learning, but also by those attending to, teaching and caring for them. Henrot’s installation represents a landscape rather than a utopia: “I want to acknowledge how care is—beyond being an essential, generative, precious act of love and attention—is also an ambivalent, entangled and messy act at times,” states Henrot.