Born 1976 in Corsica, France; lives in New York, New York
Based on narratives of environmental collapse, sexual dysfunction, religious or moral decay, and physical disorientation, Agathe Snow’s work simultaneously invokes netherworlds of decrepit horror and suggestions for rescue, celebration, and survival. Her installations typically include one or two large-scale sculptures designating her chosen mode of abjection, accompanied by smaller pieces as remnant treasuries of debris offering hope that today’s detritus may someday become a precious, valued resource. Inhabiting the gallery space while she creates and exhibits her pieces, Snow accumulates and subjects found objects to a selective refining process, linking the artifacts to anecdotes injected with narrative clues pointing to the alternative lifestyle she leads to generate her work. During her exhibitions she often hosts live events to bring her sculpture’s invented tales to life. These narratives are outlined in cryptic textual remarks she pens to accompany each piece or in expository exhibition titles, such as No Need to Worry, the Apocalypse Has Already Happened . . . when it couldn’t get any worse, it just got a little better (2007).
In that show, at New York’s James Fuentes LLC, Snow built a figurative rendition of a beached whale’s skeleton out of chicken wire, cotton padding, duct tape, painted tarp, foam core, and steel mesh. As part of the artist’s fantasy in which Manhattan has been destroyed by flood, The Whale (2007) offered viewers a cavelike refuge. Small piles of common domestic items such as rolls of toilet paper, flowers, goggles, kitchen utensils, and antiquated electronic circuitry were condensed into delicate altars dusted with sand, soil, and gold flakes, as objects affiliated with a previous, antediluvian existence. To set an apocalyptic mood, Snow started her opening in a desolate area under the Brooklyn Bridge, then led her audience on foot, as a processional, to the gallery.
Snow’s recent solo show I Don’t Know, But I’ve Been Told, Eskimo Pussy Is Mighty Cold (2007), at Peres Projects Berlin, included a dazzling variety of colorful materials gathered in Berlin flea markets mixed among earthier hand-molded works. Two large pieces both titled One (2007), constructed of painted tarps, bricks, wood, concrete, enamel, and stuffed cloth, one bearing a militaristic text inciting rebellion, sat like mudencrusted termite mounds on either side of the gallery. Between them, balloons and soccer balls were slung over three enormous crucifixes, which stood in the gallery’s center to create an eerie, abandoned setting. Tenuous relationships between materials encourage viewers to draw their own narrative conclusions, though all of Snow’s installations convey a sense of ravaged emotion, as though the artist were making her work in a hurricane’s eye. TRINIE DALTON
Agathe Snow, One, 2007. Bricks, wood, concrete, enamel, stuffed tarp, and wire mesh, approximately 157 x 102 x 60 in. (398.8 x 259.1 x 152.4). Collection of the artist