Maria Degrève is a visual artist using different media:  painting, video, photography, performance and installation. 

Her work deals with the dualities between public and private, and with the mutability and volatility of the border between the two. In what she calls her “metamorphoses” she explores the theme of identity. She questions the idea of femininity and creates « individual mythologies », through engagement with the intimate, the autobiographic and the introspective. Drawing freely from elements in her personal and everyday life for formal experimentation, her work always assumes a multiplicity of forms and layers. She transforms and alters materials, traces from her personal life or history, sometimes to overcome certain issues or situations. Lacan describes the mirror phase as a way of inquiring about one’s identity and the difficulty of accepting one’s own. Mirrors force us to see that which we do not want to see. Shaping our identity is a daily process. We absorb and reflect our presence. By deforming this reality we fragment it in little pieces.

Corporeality and sexuality are as such very important themes in her work. She creates different persona which, like a mask, conceal the different layers of femininity. The persona never looks smooth or perfect, but there is an aura of something special, fragile, often overloaded with a strained atmosphere. Rosalind Krauss discusses the viability of individual media in art, the commodity and the status of the subject: she examines issues of representation, abstraction, and gender identity, which she sometimes defines as wholly unstable. Degreve plays with this gender identity in her photos by taking on multiple poses and persona in her polaroids or videos. 

Using imagery that relates to the skin - like clothing - is a way to veil and unveil what lies underneath and to suggest what the viewer cannot see.In a playful ironic manner and with a certain distance towards her own practice, the spectator is always being tricked because every situation is never what it seems. Just as a gleaner or a collector, she accumulates residues, rests or remanences, found objects that she selects for her installations. Often we see textiles, embroideries and lace. A world of remnants in a fictive new structure evokes visions of paradise, melancholy and abhorrence, all at one. 

Her performances, videos, objects and installations all have their basis in the formulation and reformulation of ideas through language:  it is a constant process of shifting visual and textual ideas from one context to another, whereby status and meaning undergo a similar shift.  More specifically she is interested in the etymology and the “spielerei” of language and plays with multi-layered associations in her installations, sometimes with a psychoanalytical inspiration. She uses metaphors and translates a figurative cultural meaning of some reality into images. In her performances she investigates the boundaries of intimacy in a public place and challenges the imagination of the passers-by.

Saskia Ooms