View of “Mai-Thu Perret,” 2011.

View of “Mai-Thu Perret,” 2011.

Mai-Thu Perret

Aargauer Kunsthaus

View of “Mai-Thu Perret,” 2011.

Utopias—imaginary, historical, political, emotional—are often mentioned in the conversations that swirl around Mai-Thu Perret’s multifarious oeuvre, yet there is a subtle dystopian fever to her project. Take the Geneva-based artist’s more than decadelong work The Crystal Frontier, 1998–, a body of writings describing a fictive women’s commune in the New Mexico desert, where the authoritarian strictures of patriarchal urban capitalism have been shrugged off like so many old robes. The satirical potential of the subject, focused as it is on a decidedly outdated feminist model of society, is clear. But Perret’s empathy and strange ambiguity, not to mention her writerly skill, mostly carry it above such risky ground. This is lucky, as the literary project pervades her materially discursive works—either explicitly in text pieces or implicitly in mannequin-like dolls that

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