Interview with Marie-Hélène Dumas for CIMAISE

1) You say that as the angels, you want to be over the bounders of gender, but
you have chosen a very feminin appearence, at least according to our present occidental standards, excepted for your shaved head : jewelleries, skirts, bras, laces, pink etc. etc. Why? And Why no hair?

The gender-self-identification of every human being means over the boundaries of genders for EVA & ADELE. With the spreading of our image in the media (MEDIAPLASTIC), our image works for this idea.
In our appearence we decide to visualize a contradiction: the shaven heads as phallic symbole on one side, and feminine appearence, short skirts, high heals and storkings on the other side.
In our artistic sense, the make-up in our faces is painting, and our costumes are sculpture.

2) Do you think that to choose the way you look has something to do with
freedom? Why?

Yes, the freedom of gender-self-identification and the freedom of ìinvent yourselfî and the freedom in art.

Would you qualify your work of utopian?
If yes, could you define your utopia?

We like to define our work as a vision.

3) Do you think that to build oneπs own image helps to construct oneπs own

We believe gender is a construction of the society. And we think that identy comes first, then you construct the image. The image shows your identy, and our image and our work shows our authenticity.

What do you mean exactly by that?

(that will mean nothing, I think it was just a wrong word, if that was your question.)

I agree with you about the social construction of gender. But as we are socially constructed, don't you think our authenticity reflects that social construction? Can we really free ourselves from that construction?

The knowing of the reflection of our social construction, we free ourselves from this construction with our distance as artists. In fact, in this kind of analyse, our work is VISION and UTOPIA. We are around in real life to make the part of vision bigger than the part of utopia.

4) Transsexuals often say that they felt like a womanπsoul imprisonned in a
man's body? does that sort of statement interest you, do you relate your work to such thoughts , as for example, the french artist Claude Cahun did in the 30's?

We as artists have the possibility to think and live in an other dimension, in the dimension of art not of nature. we do not feel imprisonned in our bodies, but in the same time we invent our gender. EVA & ADELE is the imbloody gender-correction with art. Claude Cahuns work is very important in the tradition of gender-self-identification.

5) In french, for " they " we have a masculine, " ils " and a feminin " elles
". In the press releaseIπve received, they use, for you, sometimes " ils " and sometimes" elles ". which one would you choose? (the french feminists have something called the universal feminine, which consist to always use both gender il/elle, blanc(he) instead of the masculine which is supposed to be neutral in french).

We prefer to use illes.

6) If life is art and art is life, why do you keep most of your life secret? I
mean, why no biography at all?

This is a biographie, this is an artistic statement. It is part of our work, not to use traditional references.

if you don't mind, I would like to go further with that subject:
This attitude to say that the work of art is the only interesting thing about an artist and not her/his life, is, in a certain way, also traditional. At least, I've often heard traditional painters say the same think. But if you take Fluxus artists, it's different. Let's take Robert Filliou's performance called buying a present for Mariane. He was then in NY and wanted to go back to France with a present for his wife. He went to see a friend, and asked him if he could help him to choose that present. then both of them went to another friend, and so on and so on, and at the end they were a whole bunch of people in NY streets looking for a present, and they called it a performance, an art work.
Aren't there events in your life like travelling in a pink camping car, for example, which is a way of living which are also part of your work? and could you give me some examples?

And if not, does that mean that your work is precisely just about your appearance, the drawings and paintings that represent the way you look?

1. Any artistic activity of hermeneutic import necessarily inscribes within the context of mass-produced images.
2. The persistence of the pictural form (le tableau) -as distinct from the more restrictive medium of painting- bears witness to the dimension of the image that cannot be reduced to a simplest opposition between art and the media.
3. Information has once again become a criterion for the evaluation of contemporary images, even in the artistic sphere.
4. Can the public image in its qualitative presentness contribute to a redefinition of public space, despite its tendency to simply replace public space?
(see: Jean-Francois Chevrier and Catherine David, The actuality of the image, between the fine arts and the media, from: documenta X, documents 2 (catalogue), Ostfildern bei Stuttgart 1996).
We like to preface these 4 essential questions from Catherine David and Jean-Francois Chevrier before giving our own answer.
Our artwork is standing on 2 feet: the traditional studio art work and the work in the public, our appearance of EVA & ADELE in the everyday culture. Communication is the very important part. We define the artwork as the communication and all reactions between EVA & ADELE and all the people in the world.
For example: we initiate photographie and ask to send us a copy by handing out a postcard, please send your photo to EVA & ADELE.
Can you imagine we did give out personal 40.000 postcards from hand to hand! We did produce our first postcard in august 1989 (the first photograph in a newspaper was published in 11-08-1989) if you wish we can send you one of the first postcards.
The base of all our studio-works is communication. In the exhibition, Das XX. Jahrhundert, ein Jahrhundert Kunst in Deutschland, 1999 in the Nationalgalerie, Berlin we manifest this interactive process by showing all our edited postcards. In the exhibition SHY in the gallery Jérôme de Noirmont we will show 2 main parts of our concept: self-perception (german: ìselbstwahrnehmungî) and foreign perception (perception through others, german: fremdwahrnehmung). the foreign perception (drawings based on the sended photographs CUM; and based on the publication in the media world wide MEDIAPLASTIC) will be confronted with the self-perception throughout the DOUBLE SELF PORTRAIT. the DOUBLE SELF-PORTRAIT reflects the place and the living process of communication at this place. For our appearance we must use the traditional term ìperformanceî, in the same way our life is a 24h performance.
in this place we like to add a quote by Friedrich Hölderlin. he said: Im Leben die Kunst und im Kunstwerk das Leben lernen.

7) How de you analyse the social role of the artist in our contemporary
society, and how do you relate your work to that analysis?

Freedom is the deepest social dimension of an artwork. This dimension lies in the fact that the viewer is inwardly liberated beeing faced/confronted with the artwork. The beginning of an artistic process may be private, but there is an opening to the public sphere behind. So it becomes politics in a philosophical dimension.
We did invent the word FUTURING. Sometimes people tell us: you teach me tolerance and you teach me courage.

8) What is your dearest dream?

To have our own swimming pool.

9) How do you see yourselves in 20 or 30 years?

It depends with or without swimming pool.

10) You also say that the most important thing is love. what sort of love?
Between whom? you two? you two and the public?

if our work can give love to the public, this is our dearest dream.