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We first spotted Clement’s work at Berlin gallery Wentrup’s booth at The Armory Show this past March. There, the 2015 graduate of Andreas Gursky’s class at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf showed works from her “Avatar” series of photographs, taken on her iPhone, of the torsos of brightly hued mannequins. For “Lyric on a Battlefield,” gallery director Miciah Hussey selected five works from Clement’s “fractures” series, which sees her lens trained on the oddly bent limbs, hands, and feet of the mannequins, which she says fill her studio to the brim.
“The pieces are about putting together different parts of the body, which could fit together but don’t quite,” says Clement of the series. “I see the pieces as standing in as fragments of a person’s identity; there are parts of us that don’t fit into other parts of us. In a certain way, it’s this lack of cohesion within a person’s identity that makes them a person.”
Clement engages in a rich tradition of German photographers, like Gursky, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Thomas Ruff, who manage to capture utterly banal objects and scenes in a way that they resonate on a much higher human and societal level. Along with a new series of mannequin photographs, another body of work, “Gliedermensch,” currently on view as part of a show of Dadaist Luise Straus-Ernst’s prints that Clement curated at Cologne’s Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, pictures the molds out of which grenades and other weapons are cast.
Unlike her predecessors, Clement has been quick to move beyond photography as her sole medium. She made contact with a state-owned company responsible for destroying chemical weapons known as GEKA after learning in 2014 that it would help destroy weapons confiscated from Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. They offered Clement a vast supply of the obsidian-like chunks of glassy black material that are the by-product of neutralizing the gas. (She says it is otherwise crushed up and used to pave streets.) In Cologne these chunks lie in a wide strip along a white plinth, like a Richard Long with a penchant for mass destruction. And, for an upcoming show at Wentrup, Clement has delved into video, in which the brightly colored mannequins from “Avatars” are caressed by humans clad in patterned spandex.