Aurora Reinhard

19 Nov 2021 – 16 Jan 2022

Aurora Reinhard is known particularly for works that explore issues associated with gender and sexuality. She has long been fascinated by the links between art, commerce and fashion, and by our desire to own things we consider beautiful and valuable. From these premises, she constructs a delicate, complex and illusory installation based on Neverfull, an iconic luxury bag by Louis Vuitton.

The hyper-realistic pastel-coloured plaster sculptures in the exhibition mimic bags of a collaborative Vuitton line launched in the early 2000s that includes bags designed by such figures as Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The visual appeal of the sculptures goes back to the time when Reinhard was interested in luxury. Reinhard’s characteristic material, white plaster of Paris, can be interpreted as referencing antiquity, the canon of Western art, or the ideal of beauty. On the other hand, plaster is often perceived in art as a medium for copies and sketches, inferior and imitative to stone.

Using a mould cast from a fake Vuitton bag, Reinhard creates precious and authentic works of art for display in museums and galleries, yet she also deconstructs some of them in subtle ways. This subversive action is simultaneously mischievous and ironic, touching and liberating. With it, Reinhard defies the pervasive and exhausting imperative of perfection, the act and the aesthetics of putting things on a pedestal, while also recognising that these mechanisms play a significant role in her own artistic practice.

Luxury by its very nature is relative, paradoxical and performative. A luxury handbag can be variously seen as a piece of craftsmanship, a status symbol, an attribute of femininity and affluence, a commodity in the luxury industry and its aftermarket, of a fantasy created by marketing. The bag’s titular quality, never full, perhaps says more about ourselves than about the bag itself. Our fantasies and desires never make us fully satisfied; despite all our efforts we always remain half empty, fragile, imperfect. Unfulfilled desire is a significant motivating force in our lives, but also a yearning that eternally eats at our souls.

Aurora Reinhard (b. 1975) uses video, self-portraits and hyper-realistic or ready-made objects to create works that fetishize everyday life. Taking images from the media, advertising and the history of Western art, she interprets them through her personal experiences and offers us new ways of looking at them.

The exhibition is supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Arts Promotion Centre Finland.