Documenting an installation of the same name, Continents Noir continues Annette Messager’s (born 1943) sculptural evocations of unconscious energies and abject objecthood. The title evokes both Freud’s famous definition of the unconscious (the “dark continent”) and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, in which Gulliver reaches an island that travels in the air. Messager’s installation consists of black, agglomerated, wrapped objects and architectural forms suspended from the ceiling.
As if born from the eerie metaphysics of de Chirico, these fossilized “islands” appear to have descended from some remote galaxy. Other components of Continents Noir include floor fans animating suspended figures that are outlined in women’s dresses, pieces of fabric and wigs; and the wrapped figures of birds, mice and geometric forms, arranged in enigmatic relations. Alongside reproductions of all the works, American sci-fi author Norman Spinrad contributes an essay on Messager’s island worlds and objects.