Digital art goddess Sabrina Ratté deconstructs her own physique, using 3D scans of her body to remake the classical feminine nude in a digital art world.
Sarah Roberts | Ed Cristina Brooks | 5 November 2020
Sabrina Ratté (b.1982) is a Canadian artist living in Paris. Her new media practice includes video, animation, installations, sculptures, audio-visual performances and prints. Mixing analogue technologies, photography and 3D animation, she investigates the influence of digital and physical spaces and the interplay between these surroundings and subjectivity.
Elektra Bian: House of Skin inspired by the work of David Cronenberg, commissioned and presented by @cinemathequeqc and coproduced by @elektra_bian
Sabrina Ratté, House of Skin (2021) © Courtesy of the artist. Collaboration with @rogertelliercraig
The digital series Jump Cut is a @ctmfestival commission. The first screening will be May 8th as part of @mutek.ar and @mutekes .
Ratté’s new media works draw on the philosophy of Donna Haraway. Haraway’s 1985 essay Cyborg Manifesto, now a seminal feminist work, uses the idea of the cyborg to question gender politics. With foresight, Haraway questioned how we apply divisions between masculinity and femininity or organic and digital to the cyborg, a cross between human and mechanical being, that transcends these boundaries. Ratté’s Monades embrace this gender ambiguity, appearing feminine and flowing but also strangely robotic and sexless.
Sabrina Ratté, work in progress FLORALIA (2021) Video series / Série de vidéos & Installation © Courtesy of the artist.
Soundtrack / Trame sonore: Andrea-Jane Cornell
Did you know?
While the Monades are monumental in both appearance and social relevance, that is not to say they take themselves too seriously. Ratté introduces elements of playfulness and unpredictability into her work. Originally trained in film, Ratté quickly moved into experimentation with video. Frequently using synthesisers and analogue technology in her past works to add visual and sound effects, she describes her artistic process as ‘painting with electronic light’. In an interview with Ffoto magazine, she says she is constantly learning new 3D animation techniques, “appropriating” new tools, and letting her passion for video “emerge in other forms”.
Sabrina Ratté, Monade II (2021) Monade IV is being shown with @vellum_la @standardvision at @laartshow and now for sale on @superrare.co © Courtesy of the artist.
The Monades in Ratté’s series are majestic goddesses presiding over digitally drawn spaces, echoing Greek sculptural forms. In an interview with the magazine It’s Nice That, Ratté refers to her fascination with architecture, an ongoing theme in her work being the “‘relation between psychological projection into a physical space and its representation”’.
Ratté harks back to classical civilization to explore a long-time fetish and fixation of the art world; the feminine nude. Nudes are a subject familiar to any regular gallery goer: to the extent that, 80s feminist activist artists Guerrilla Girls were outraged that female nudes were picked over the work of living female artists for shows in the MET museum.
Ratté’s Monades nestle within and challenge this tradition. Their white digital flesh is reminiscent of the smooth, marbled forms of Roman and Greek sculpture, reclining in poses that recall nymphs sitting on riverbeds or courtesans lying on boudoir sofas. Yet they are also oddly disfigured, with phantom, blurred limbs that double up and melt out of the skin. Their shiny bodies reflect pixelated light and the once flowing, curving lines of the female nude threaten to glitch into oblivion at any moment.
In an interview with the magazine It’s Nice That, Ratté refers to her fascination with architecture, an ongoing theme in her work being the “‘relation between psychological projection into a physical space and its representation”’. The monades are scanned directly from her own body, projecting her image into the digital art realm, but the shift to the virtual environment transforms and alters them. The shaky projection suggests an unstable translation from organic to digital flesh.
In Greek philosophy the ‘Monad’ is a solidified unit, a singular source of power. Each Monade dominates its own digital territory with its gargantuan form but it also defies clear separation into feminine or masculine divisions.
Sabrina Ratté, House of Skin (2020) Video Installation, 10 minutes loop. Commissioned by Cinémathèque Québécoise © Courtesy of the artist.
Soundtrack by Roger Tellier-Craig
This installation will be presented in 2020 / 2021 at Cinémathèque Québécoise in Montreal, Canada.
This large scale video installation is a nature morte where the camera slowly unveils different fleshy entities embedded with technology. Laying in this strange land, half cemetery half waste-yard, obsolete mutations have been abandoned to create this new ecosystem hanging between life and death. By their shapes, textures and context, each entity is loosely inspired by different films of Cronenberg, such as The Fly, Scanners, Videodrome, Dead Ringers, The Brood, Existenz and Crash. The title is a reference to his film Crimes of the Future.
The installation is surrounded by 5 televisions, lighting the room with different videos made with synthesizers. Each pattern represents a manifestation of the body, such as brain signals, heartbeats, blood etc. While referencing Videodrome and the evolution of the electronic image, it also suggests the idea that the body is a form of technology in itself.
Machine for Living - Créteil from Sabrina Ratté on Vimeo.
Sabrina Ratté, Machine for Living (2018) Video Series / Installation / Sculptures. © Courtesy of the artist.
Sound by Roger Tellier Craig
Machine for Living (2018)
A project elaborated in the context of a 9-month residency at Château Ephémère (Carrière-sous-Poissy, France). The video series investigates the architecture of the new towns (Villes Nouvelles) and brutalist habitation buildings in the surroundings of Paris. Cities such as Noisy-le-Grand, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, Créteil, Grigny, Cergy-Pontoise, Nanterre and Ivry-sur-Seine were at the centre of this research. Created using photographs, 3D animation and video synthesizer, Machine for living combines documentation and abstraction and straddles the line between utopia and dystopia.
RADIANCES VI from Sabrina Ratté on Vimeo.
Sabrina Ratté, Radiances (2018) Video HD / Sculptures / Prints. Radiances III – IV – V – VI also available in 4K © Courtesy of the artist.
Radiances is a series of paintings in motion. Through a combination of 3D animation, video synthesis and digital manipulations, painterly textures and organic forms emerge to create animated landscapes.
Originally hailing from Montreal, Ratté has received recognition through two nominations for the prestigious Sobey Art Prize. An accolade for contemporary Canadian artists under 40, the prize was increased fivefold and evenly awarded to 2020 nominees in light of the pandemic. Ratté’s work has been exhibited globally in shows across London, Montreal and Tokyo.
Solo/Two Person Shows
2021| Sea Change Exhibition, @vellum_la , in partnership with @superrare.co, at the @laartshow
2021| Hors Pistes Festival 1-14 Feb 2021 at Centre Pompidou
2020| Solo exhibition, Galerie Charlot, Tel Aviv, Israel
2020| Solo exhibition, Galerie Charlot, Paris, France
2019| Sabrina Ratté & Yoshi Sodeoka, UltraSuperNew Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
2019| Solo exhibition, Galerie Charlot, Tel Aviv, Israel
2019| Solo exhibition, Galerie Charlot, Paris, France
Group shows / Festivals
2022| Réseaux-Mondes (World of Networks), thewrong.tv at Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
2021| FRAGMENTS OF A HOLOGRAM ROSE, @feralfile NFT exhibition
2020| 10 Year Anniversary Show, Galerie Charlot, Paris, France
2020| Emergence and Convergence, Phi Centre, Montreal, Canada
2019| Shenzhen New Media Art Festival, China
2019| Liminal Territory, Transfer, Los Angeles
2019| Standard Vision, Los Angeles Central Library, Los Angeles, USA
2019| Solstice, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, USA
Museums or Fairs