Antille’s oeuvre explores the interaction between different groups of people in their isolated living spaces and specific, often somewhat alienating, rituals. The artist often develops a theme in the longer term, working with a group of (amateur) actors. She then creates a number of works, in various media, from this material. A feature of her video works is the interweaving of reality, fiction and dreams. These works confront the viewer with a universe which oscillates between closeness and distance, affection and latent aggression, going as far as physical or spiritual intrusion. While achieving this effect, Antille also creates highly original female roles which mark a departure from tradition, since they are not circumscribed by the male viewpoint.
Her early video works combine intimate shots, reminiscent of home movie aesthetics, with highly sophisticated image-processing. In Reflecting Parts (1998), a woman performs a lonely dance in an apartment which exudes a disjointed atmosphere of absolute emptiness. Wouldn’t it be nice (1999) shows two women withdrawing from Sunday lunch with the family and engaging in their own, personal rituals, the repetitive, compulsive actions of everyday life. At the same time, in the room next-door, the female protagonist performs an act of erotic self-stimulation. Night for Day (2000/01) depicts a strangely cut-off, symbiotic mother-daughter relationship in which communication seems to be based on wordless rituals. From 2001 to 2003, Emmanuelle Antille worked on her Angels Camp series of works, with family and friends, in a conservation area in western Switzerland. With Angels Camp, she represented Switzerland at the 50th Biennale in Venice.
Antille’s earlier video works Lee’s Season (2001) and Angels Camp (2001 – 2003) deal with the theme of adolescence. Her new cycle, Tornadoes of my Heart (2005), follows on from this subject-matter. It consists of one full-length film, three video installations and a series of photographs, which she produced with a group of young amateur actors and one professional actress. Her installation Kill me twice, dear friend, dear enemy uses cyclical double projection to portray the violent intimacy of the boundless friendship between Jack and Lenny. The work made its debut at Art Unlimited 05. Floating, crashing, spinning, spitting, kissing, beating over and over, not to stop feeling is an installation on six monitors. It shows a group of young people left to their own devices in a no-man’s land. Here they mark out their territory and develop their own codes and forms of communication. The installation was shown last autumn, in a solo exhibition at Geneva’s Centre pour l’Image Contemporaine. The installation Le Journal de Jack, in five projections, uses a diary-type voice-over to present the daily life, feelings and dreams of its protagonist, Jack, who lives with his peculiar mother in a deserted hotel. In all three installations, the artist juxtaposes silent shots of passing tornadoes, clouds and wind-ruffled grass with close-ups of the sometimes violent interaction between the protagonists. Subtly, she conveys a sense of the ease of this stage of life, of a balancing act between heaven and earth.