Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest is a multi-faceted project by Los Angeles-based artist Alexandra Grant encompassing a series of public drawing sessions, reading groups, artist collaborations and an installation at 18th Street Arts Center.
Several years ago, the French writer, playwright, and philosopher Hélène Cixous gave me one of her books, “Philippines,” as a source for collaboration between her text and my artistic practice. “Philippines” is based around the story of “Peter Ibbetson,” a novel by Georges du Maurier, where two childhood friends are separated by class and country, reuniting as adults in a shared dream that takes place in a primal forest. Hélène describes the book as filled with “silhouettes of characters that seemed to have always been with me.”
“We all have our treasure books, tales or fables, and they are quite unexpected. For Proust his secret book was [Théophile Gautier’s] ‘Le Capitaine Fracasse,'” Hélène says, and for Sigmund Freud it was Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.” Her secret book is “Peter Ibbetson.” In a conversation that took place in late December 2012 in Paris, Hélène and I are discussing “Peter Ibbetson” as the inspiration for “Philippines,” and “Philippines” as the genesis of the exhibition “Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest.” The setting is quite intimate, as we are seated at her dining room table with her books and photographs lining the shelves behind us. We talk openly about receiving telepathic messages as points of inspiration (“Is this message for me? And in what language?”).