Caroline Denervaud

Caroline Denervaud is a multidisciplinary artist based in Paris, France. Her practice spans from textile-based embroideries and drawings to photographic collaborations. At times humorous, deviant yet charming, Denervaud’s work is thought provoking; her gentle stitches embroider themselves in one’s memory. The artist generously took some time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about her inspirations, her attraction towards “clashy-ness” and appreciation for cheap materials.

Jennifer Huang: How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?

Catherine Denervaud: My work is spontaneous. I draw moments I’ve lived, think about, or obsess me.

What materials do you typically work with? What draws you to them?

I like to use cheap materials, bic pen, or watercolor. I use simple thread and old linen or cotton sheets for the embroideries. I like the idea of working everywhere, inside, outside, in a café, on holiday, in the kitchen, etc.

Your embroidery has a bold illustrative aspect that is also paired down by its spare color and content. Can you explain your process? How do you choose which elements remain?

The embroideries are like a story. It’s about liberty or no liberty. It’s an intimate story. It’s a questioning story. It’s about strength, anger or envy, trapped in the cloth.

Can you talk about your Heidies series? Are they performative installation pieces that correlate to your two-dimensional embroidery and graphite work? 

The Heidies is a team of two: my friend and photographer, Pascaline Dargent, and I. It’s a share of ideas, energy, envy, complicity. We work together very instinctively; we mix our two worlds to create a new one. So no, there’s no direct correlations, it’s an other part of me and my work.

How did you and Pascaline come up with the title, Heidies, and is there a specific theme or motivation behind the work?

Pascaline and I are born and raised in Switzerland. The Heidies are two “Heidi’s”, like the little girl from the Swiss Mountains, and we thought that “Heidi’s” sounds a bit like “ideas.” We began because I wanted to dance something, to talk about movement, and Pascaline did the pictures. We feel an energy and respect between us, we decided to continue, to do a shooting-performance a month. Since we created the Heidies, we have been continuing to explore photographic performance together.

Is there anything you’re presently inspired by – anything you’re reading, listening to, or looking at?

Actually my eyes are on street art, collage, textile art; my ears want to listen to slam or spoken word. I need rhythms, something a bit “clashy.”

What is it about “clashy-ness” attracts you? Do you try to achieve this in your own work as well?

Yes, I like the idea of letting go out of me all I want to say, all I live, like a trace, because life is now. I use music to help me go forward. Life is not always easy, and I have to fight to continue, music gives me strength, gives me rhythm.

Is there something you are currently working on or excited about that you can talk about? 

Associations, in colors, words, forms… that don’t look like they match together, but instead, give another view, something interesting, new.

These word associations remind me of the work of artist, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. She makes these word plays using both the French and English language. Do you like her work?

I didn’t know Theresa Hak Kyung Cha… thank you for the beautiful discovery! I just bought her book, Dictee. Her work looks clever, sensible, and poetic, I’m looking forward to knowing it better.

Are you a full time artist, or do you hold a day job as well — how do you ration your time and resources to sustain your practice?

Yes and no. I work in free-lance as a graphic designer, illustrator; sometimes I have to knit, saw, etc. I accept every job proposition.

What does your average day at the studio look like?

I work at home. I don’t have any typical journey, I can begin as I wake up or work late at night. I like to walk a lot as well, to gather energy, inspiration, and to think.

Do you see your own work as relating to any current movement in visual art or culture?

I don’t know. I follow my envies.

Makes sense. Have you had to make sacrifices to be an artist? How do you respond to the various challenges and misconceptions that come with being an artist?

No, I’m very independent. I couldn’t work in an office. Even if it’s sometimes hard to be different and to live simply, it’s okay for me. I chose it!

I appreciate your approach to it. What do you think is the function of art in society? Do you think artists hold a certain responsibility?

Yes. Art makes you think, look, speak. Art questions you, and it’s necessary.

Lastly, do you have any advice for young, emerging artists?

If you are okay with being an artist and the life that goes with it, be yourself, go ahead and work! And contacts are necessary too.

Are you involved in any upcoming shows or events? 

I will create textile drawings for the brand, Moismont, in January, and I’m preparing an exhibition for the embroidery and drawing associations. I want to expose my work, the embroideries and drawing associations, but I’m now just looking for a good place to do so.

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