Melodie Mousset

Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects
6006 Washington Boulevard
September 8, 2012–October 20, 2012

View of “Impulsive Control,” 2012.

Three videos, shot from above and projected downward onto low platforms, present the artist nude and seated on a spinning potter’s wheel. A soft lump of clay covers her head. This is how Melodie Mousset produced the series of unglazed ceramics arrayed on a table-size pedestal in her latest solo exhibition, “Impulsive Control.” Her method may seem like a labored justification for work that is, simply, beautiful. (And it’s true—Mousset’s installation is apparently meant to counterbalance the explicitly “political” Andrea Bowers exhibition in the gallery’s other rooms.) Yet a monotonous violence underlies these objects. Impulse becomes compulsion. In each video, a man’s hands reach in from off camera; they dampen and then probe the crown of the artist’s bald, glistening clay head. Slowly, tenderly, he inserts a finger. A dimple widens into a hole; the head opens up into a vessel the color of the artist’s skin, hallucinated as flesh. The bowl expands, droops; the wheel stops. The video reverses and loops.

But this contested interface between male and female or matter and mind is really dominated by the pieces themselves. The sculptor appears in control but performs under duress, struggling but unable to make a perfect piece with the constraint of Mousset’s body. The vessels he throws are not his own, but the artist’s bent progeny. Who has control? Not the seduced viewer. Perhaps not even the artist, driven (spun and pressed) to physical extremes by her technique. Mousset’s “impulses” manifest in masochism; her “skull” is destroyed, again and again, opened up and resealed. Impulsive creativity overcomes conscious thought, resulting in sculptures. A constant drone suffuses the space, loud and visceral, felt in the chest: the amplified motors of three potter’s wheels bearing female nudes.

— Travis Diehl