"Soil, dirt entered in the production of my work, in 1988, by way of a powerful nostalgia for a place, and an agonizing anxiety over a condition of being. The place is lost. The condition is imposed...
First I build the faces entirely out of a mixture of potting soil and acrylic medium on one plane of a thick plexiglass panel. I put as much individuality as I can in these faces, as much as this awkward medium will allow. They are composites of remembered features which I draw largely from a group of watercolor studies that I do separately. They are portraits.
Evaporation of water produces deep fissures in the soil faces, sometimes distorting the image with extreme violence. This process is uncontrollable, depending on such things as temperature, humidity and so on. While this is going on, a companion image is prepared for each portrait.
The protective paper of the plexiglass is removed around the face, leaving it to exist momentarily in a total void.
The portrait is then mounted over the companion, which now appears at its side. The role of the rope is to tie the whole together, by weaving in and out of all these surfaces; soil, plexiglass, paper and a supportive plywood panel, appearing and disappearing at chosen points so as to form a third configuration. Soil can be pleasant in texture and color. Somehow, to me, rope never is. As it is the unequivocal instrument of physical bondage, it becomes symbolic of emotional, psychological bondage.
Last, when the piece is hung on the wall, the reflective power of the plexiglass comes into play, bringing in a phantasmagorical setting of reflections, illusions and harsh glare, in which the "drama" takes place."
- Paul Gardère