By Julia Purcell, February 25, 2016
When walking into the Claire Oliver Gallery, Fractal Architectures positions you as both a viewer of the art and active participant within it. Soulier’s surreal photography of miniature homes takes on a new life when elements from the photos leak into the gallery space: accent walls in the gallery are covered in same geometric wallpaper featured in her photographs; physical 3-D models, sister spaces to the ones in the photographs, are dotted throughout the room, using the gallery-goer’s gaze to mimic the human element in the photographs.
Laetitia Soulier, The Square Roots Sculpture, 2015, Mixed Media, 51 x 39.5 x 39.5 inches | 129.54 x 100.33 x 100.33 cm
In this way, we are taken back (or forwards, depending on the viewers age) to a time when we were moving dangerously close to adulthood, when playing house turned into real-life. We become the lips in The Matryoshka Dolls 3, the eyes in The Matryoshka Dolls 1, reflecting on shoes and prams we left in our childhood.
The models and photographs in Laetitia Soulier’s Fractal Architectures look both painstakingly intricate and effortless, with hundreds of tiny details coming together to form an organic – sometimes literally, a few pieces depict nature invading the rooms – snapshot, a complete tableau fit for a movie still. Soulier’s human touch is not immediately evident within this perfection, and one wouldn’t necessarily be able to guess that she constructed each set by hand, without the use of 3-D modeling.
Laetitia Soulier, The Matryoshka Dolls Sculpture, 2015, Mixed Media, 48 x 72 x 34 inches | 122 x 183 x 86 cm
The human touch comes from the figures within the photos, bright-faced children entangled in the environment, adding extra whimsy to the images. Several structural elements and specific set pieces are repeated throughout the works in the exhibition, adding in a layer of slight déja vu when walking throughout the exhibit. The photographs also evoke feelings of nostalgia, yet the sets feel too real, too lived in to be mere dollhouses. Square Roots 3 dances on the brink of adolescence and adulthood, with nature infiltrating the shots indicating a passage of time and growth.
Soulier sucks us into her world, then allows us to make it our own.