In Partnership with the phICA Shipping Containers, Rhetorical Galleries presents All That Remains, a paper installation by Dani Godreau. Godreau explores feminist ideas and crafts through paper cuttings, a form of paper mache and interjects herself into her own art using her own body to create forms. Godreau’s papercutting is not only aimed at the end product, but the concept of cutting as a tranquil activity harkens from a recent trip to China, and she is continuously inspired by Chinese Paper Cutting. All That Remains is a reflection of Godreau’s anxiety towards death and is a monument towards the transition of her career.
Godreau approaches papercutting as a form of therapy. She writes “My work in the studio is a strikingly solitary experience. Everything is mute except for the hum of the AC, the slight rustling of the paper and the almost hypnotic “tink” sound as each fragile paper shape is removed from the composition with surgical precision.” In traditional Chinese paper cutting the ability of the cutter was linked to domestic ability, and often associated in the same vein as refined domestic arts with mostly women artists. Godreau’s paper cuttings are the merging of traditional craft with modern notions. The papercuttings take on a darker representation with the solid black color and repeating geometric shapes. The sheer amount of cut material takes it from a leisurely activity to back breaking work, and Godreau highlights the often forgotten role that women laborers have taken on in the past.
The remnants of the cuttings are gathered under the body as ashes of the forgotten. Godreau uses her own body as a stand in for the anxiety that manifests in the background only revealed after self reflection. The texture of the paper mache shows the imperfections that accompany human life. The space of the shipping containers work perfectly to enhance the funerary feeling of the installation. The repeating rectangle shapes suggest a coffin and the black cuttings become a hanging funerary shroud. The body is covered in torn floral wallpaper, which is a nod to her past artwork that often focused on feminist ideas. In her previous work while in the MFA program at ASU, Godreau reproduced her form in crouching figures recreating the papercutting. All That Remains reads like a commentary and natural progression of the moments of silent reflection after the goal is completed.
It is clear that this exhibition is an intimate reflection of the artist and although funeral rites are depicted, it is still open for investigation and interpretation. The paper-cuttings also project shadows on the white walls, helping to immerse the viewer in the small yet impactful space. It feels slightly claustrophobic with the viewer ducking and weaving through the space for different viewpoints, however it works in the viewers favor to convey physical manifestations of anxiety.