UNIDEE research residency | Grand Tour 2021
Artist in residence: Claire Bouffay
The research residency has been conceived and designed according to UNIDEE’s methodology, which combines practice with theory, through workshops, seminars and meetings with experts, studio visits and trips tailored to the interests of the artist.
Claire Bouffay has been assisted in her research by the UNIDEE team (Juan Sandoval, Andy Abbott, Clara Tosetti and Annalisa Zegna).
From 17 October to 30 November 2021 the artist Claire Bouffay has been living and working in Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto (Biella) thanks to the Grand Tour project developed by Institut français Italia (IFI) and Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO), working on her own research and attending the UNIDEE Labs 2021 Tools and technologies for embedded arts practice curated by Andy Abbott and mentored by Jeanne van Heeswijk, Paul O’ Neill, Mick Wilson, and Yvonne Carmichael.
The UNIDEE Labs 2021 was an opportunity to share, unpack and apply artists’ ongoing practice or action-research with a group of peers, the UNIDEE Residency Programs team and guests including artist Jeanne van Heeswijk (The Netherlands), curator, writer, artist and educator Paul O’ Neill (PUBLICS, Helsinki), artist, educator, researcher Mick Wilson (HDK-Valand, Gothenburg), and artist and curator Yvonne Carmichael (South Square Centre, Bradford). Over the course of the Labs with group critiques, facilitated workshops, collective trace-making, and informal and responsive activities the group made space in which artists gained multiple perspectives on the work they was undertaking in their local, with a focus on identifying, testing and developing tools, technologies and methodologies that may be usefully applied in the situated contexts in which they are working.
During her residency at Cittadellarte, Claire Bouffay had the opportunity to explore some places related to her research, including La Bessa Special Nature Reserve, the archaeominerary sites of Oasi Zegna and the Museo del Territorio Biellese, as well as some visits to museums and art institutions in Turin and Milan.
Claire Bouffay's research at Cittadellarte looked at the history of money, more specifically the history of coin minting and metal extraction. This research was strongly embedded in the territory of Biella, as she looked into the history of the old archeo-mineral sites in the mountains of Oasi Zegna, the ancient gold mines of La Bessa Special Natural Reserve, and the history of the town of Masserano, which was a principality and produced its own currency in the past centuries. The aim of this research was to gather knowledge about the construction of market economies and capitalism and to translate this knowledge, to create a better understanding of this history as a means to demystify capitalism. She also explored current economic alternatives, trying to find solutions on how individuals can take back the economy and starting to collect tools that could help in this.
While looking into this large field of research, she was also interested in experimenting with sculpture processes and building an artisanal foundry linked to her experience in Biella. The idea of the foundry was to take notes in a more sensitive and abstract way, to translate this theoric research into a sculptural form. Her work is indeed the result of historical but also formal and materialistic research, whose goal is to transform our relationship to the tangible world and to better understand it. During her stay, she built an oven where she melted recycled metal objects made of bronze, aluminum, and tin to cast the forms she created during the time of her research. Taking the time to experiment with materials has been very important, as she believes those materials have stories to tell us too, that they can be part of our conversations and can help us to create a space of crossing paths, from which new futures and new lives could emerge.
On Monday 29th November, Claire Bouffay presented her research during an Open Studio at Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto.
Claire Bouffay, born in 1997 in Nîmes, holds a master degree from the National school of art Villa Arson, in Nice. She is a young artist who works within a large field of experimentations, with different techniques and materials and at the junction between many disciplines, such as sculpture, design, ceramic or alternumerism. Her work is linked to historical and anthropological research, and particulary to the history of our economic systems. She wrote her degree thesis on the question of our numeric alternatives and the decentralisation of the internet, and built an intranet at her school in order to create a local archive that could be used by students. Part of her work can be seen as a way to share tools and knowledge. She is part of the art collective Wanda Green, and is working within this collective on a multi disciplinary exhibition questioning the classical separation between nature and culture, and exploring sustainable technologies and DIY robotics.