Pascale Desfontaines just finished her degree in Fine Arts at UCT’s Michaelis. Her graduate installation, Conquest of the Air, showcases a series of 10 lithographs and what she calls “crafted hot air balloon-esque objects”, which explores the tensions between different modes of being. Here’s what she has to say about her student experience, work, and future:
How and why did you become interested in art?
I’ve always had some sort of investment in visual culture. When I was younger it predominantly took the form of hours spent drawing in my free time. I then took art as a subject at school and the pull to continue my career in the creative arts was a very natural step, even though I also had a profound interest in the field of biology and mathematics.
What has your experience as a student been like? What valuable lessons did you learn along the way?
Although it can be argued that one ‘doesn’t need to study art’ to become successful in the field; I have found my time as a fine arts student to be invaluable to the way I understand and practice art. Being a fine art student at Michaelis has proven to be a highly intensive and educational experience.
Fulfilling both academic and practical demands requires 100% commitment and dedication and teaches one how to establish an effective level of proficiency to carry out into the working world. Furthermore, studying within the institution provides such great insight into the intricacies of the ‘art world’ that one is so much better equipped with the knowledge of how to access it.
Tell us about the concept, process and result of your final project.
The honors final year program at Michaelis requires that students spend a year developing a coherent body of work located within a particular field of research, to be exhibited as a complete exhibition at the end of year examinations.
Finding a vocabulary for my work I would say that it is about exploring tensions between certain modes of being or understanding and creating an immersive environment that leaves the viewer lingering somewhere in between – in that indeterminate space in the interim.
In this specific body of work it is articulated through a phenomenon that itself represents non-place: a passage of travel between the states of being here and there. More specifically, the research content for the work investigates the early history of flight in an attempt to speak to a wider process of exploration and discovery. The Conquest of the Air is integral to the contemporary age as an event that has greatly influenced and informed the way in which we understand and negotiate space and the world around us. It could be thought of as the beginning threads of a global phenomenon that is the postmodern.
This research content has been articulated through my work in the form of carefully crafted hot air balloon-esque objects. These are constructed from sewn fabric that suspended in space. The installation is caught in the crossfire of projections showing footage of a sea and sky scape. This both contributes to the transcendental and immersive capacity of the work as well as locates the objects within the tension between these two spaces. This installation is supported by a series of lithographic prints that deal with a more dangerous and sinister side of the history of human flight.
How would you describe your personal style, and what influences it?
One’s personal style as an artist is often a difficult thing to locate because it is always changing and responding to what ever content is serving as the reference point for the work. I personally respond to textures – I like drawing and sewing and working with my hands; I am intrigued by the materiality of whatever medium I am working with and finding ways in which I can push the medium to best articulate whatever topic it is that I’m working around. Often I am more concerned with a sense a particular image might give you as opposed to the actual content of the image itself.
Describe your dream job.
My dream job is fairly vague at this point in time. I have an interest in so many different fields – fashion; food; art; music; architecture. I would most like to be involved in a multitude of different creative projects; running concurrently. Ideally I would like my art production to be lucrative enough that it can be my primary focus.
What are you busy with at the moment?
At the moment I am busy working on a new body of work and looking for work potentially in a print studio or with another artist.
What are your plans for the future?
My short term goals include gaining experience and proficiency within my field whilst applying for and preparing to do my masters in France. My long term goals are less specific but they involve becoming exceptionally successful.