Karine Jollet is a French sculptor. Working with old textiles, almost always in white, she uses clothes, bedsheets, handkerchieves and other materials that are closely connected with the person. These repurposed textiles are carefully and meticulously hand-stitched then stuffed with polyester to recreate aspects of the human form. This could be a dismembered body part or organ, a torso or complete bodily form. Primitive and mythological creatures also feature in her work.
She describes the fabrics she works with as being analagous with the fabrics that make up the body: Skin, bones, fibres.
In responding to why she works in white Jollet says “My sculptures are white to remind us of an invisible universe, far away from our own world, a dimension of unity and purity. White allows me also to connect all sculptures among themselves, to create a line of connection beyond the singularity of each work and recreate the complexity of the universe they remind of.
So, it can take the shape of a bone or the face of a goddess but all my sculptures are creatures of the same ideal universe where matter and spirit are in harmony”.
Jollet’s sculptures are extraordinarily lifelike and are, for me, at the same time peaceful and yet disturbing. The white is calming, soothing and tactile. The stitching and blankness of the eyes in her facial sculptures brings to mind the mortician’s skill, the embalmer’s art, mummification and preservation. Our close identification of cloth as a body covering also suggests features that are being covered up, hidden.
I feel a strong contrast between Jollet’s work and another French sculptor, Anne-Valerie Dupond. Although both work in sculptural textiles, Jollet’s work is a harmonious meeting of stitch and fabric. Dupond on the other hand, juxtaposes blunt stitches in strongly contrasting colours, black stitching against white for example. This gives a harsher, rougher look that is almost brutal, albeit sometimes with a quirky sense of humour.
Using fabric as