Denizen | Freya Moffat

Denizen is the exhibition set up at the Fondazione Pini Milan in September 2021 in which Freya Moffat presents her latest untitled series of works. The artist created life-size characters in papier- mâché, dressed them in modest and ordinary office clothes, placed these sculptures around the city – “denizen” means inhabitant – as intent on living their lives, stuck in moments of routine, like everyone else. These ordinary moments have been photographed and presented as ambiguous glances on our cities: they immediately appear as usual images, sometimes intimate, but after a few moments one recognizes the sense of restlessness that pervades them. Others among these characters are exhibited in the exhibition, involving the viewer in a reflection on the ways in which we inhabit the spaces of our life and the feelings of anxiety and inadequacy that these daily experiences communicate to us. The bodies of these characters are also tense, deformed by the glue and the precariousness of the reuse materials with which they are made (newspapers, magazines, clothes, cartoons) as if they were built with the discarded things that occupy the space we live in: Moffat also started making sculptures to photograph them, to flatten the plane between them and the background. The photographs seem to hint at denizen as individuals, initially conceived as a collective body but destined to achieve individuality in the future.
This dual mode of exposure of the characters, mediated or not by photography, and the tension that the bodies of Moffat’s “denizen” express, invites the viewer to reflect on the action of showing, of putting on display: in a moment of great fragility in which, according to the artist, all this “is counterintuitive, we feel particularly vulnerable”, exposing oneself is a courageous response to face this collective claustrophobic experience that was the lockdown against the covid 19 pandemic.

As the artist underlines: “I think that the work is a lot about the attempt and failure to communicate. It doesn’t help that the ‘Denizen’s’ heads are wrapped up in fabric which causes them (or is the cause of them) being incredibly insular. Their attention is half occupied by tying to hold postures and positions which cannot hold- they are moments of tension. Then again, an office party is always a bit tense and awkward. These characters, dressed in cheap shiny shirts, are dancing a little bit too far away from each other.”


©Freya Moffat, Untitled, 2021
Giclee Print, 59 x 84cm
courtesy the artist