Oozing Wall (Rémy) Moyra Davey

Courtesy of Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam Photo: Aad Hoogendoorn

This work by the Canadian Moyra Davey arrived in the Netherlands by post. She folds up her C-prints, writes an address on them, and sends them to family, friends and work associates. The physical journey of the photographs is an important part of her work. Once they arrive at the recipient, they are damaged, creased and stamped – evidence of the passage of time. “The process reflects many of the essentials of Davey’s practice: a love affair with the small details of everyday life; chance and accident as an artistic strategy; the reclaiming of a slowness that is often lost in the digitized world.”

In Oozing Wall (Rémy) (2014), Davey is building on her research into the life and work of Jean Genet (1910-1986), a French author and playwright who developed his language in the first instance while in jail for crimes including vagrancy, robbery, prostitution and homosexual acts. In his book Notre Dame des Fleurs (1942), Genet describes a secret erotic altar dedicated to his loves, which he kept in his cell. This collage of meaningful images and objects was the direct inspiration for Davey’s triptych. The space that can be seen in her photographic work is an ode to Genet.

In the space you can make out images of Genet’s coffin, a page from Edmund White’s biography about Genet, photographic material and a print of a plume of smoke, among other things. Hanging on the wall is one of the photographs discovered by Davey of an old Ohio penitentiary, made in the 1990s, just before the building was demolished. It is both a reminder of the prison that no longer exists and a reference to Genet’s long history in jail. All of this is hidden behind the top layer of the work: the stamps and labels of Davey’s shipping system in the foreground. They link the prison to the world outside.