A papier-mâché sculpture keeps guard as you enter Mai-Thu Perret’s show, a blood red machine gun at her side. Masks hang from thick black sheets above a disembodied woman’s head.
‘Zone’ takes inspiration from an avant-garde French novel about a society run by a tribe of warrior lesbian women and also forms part of a story by Perret about a remote commune of women in the desert. The room here feels like it could be a space in that commune: a guard keeping watch, a tall wicker totem acting as a symbol of female power and strength, the walls lined with decorative tile and clay sculptures. In the centre of the space, a massive bubbling tiled bed could be a massage table, or maybe it’s from a morgue. You feel like you’ve entered an inner sanctum, a quiet place of refuge for warriors.
The clay works on the wall are pretty – some full of finger marks, others still and blank. Perret is playing with classic modern art and dadaist forms, making you see them as part of the artistic production of her violent fictional sisterhood.
The show’s a trip: anger and violence hidden under a veneer of calm, considered artistic expression. You feel like if you get caught in here you’re going to get your nuts cuts off. If you’re nutless, you might just be safe.