Move over spray-can graffiti, artist Intra Larue’s colourful sculptures of breasts are all the rage as it takes over the streets of Paris and Dublin. This French-feminist art activist has been in the news for her rather unconventional approach on this sensitive topic. Larue began the public art project as a lark with some of her friends, but then soon realised the strength of the message that her delicate sculptures could bring.
Larue began casting plaster sculptures from her breasts just as an experiment. Currently, she likes to remain anonymous as most graffiti artists do, and works quietly at a day-job. Her father is unaware about the endeavour yet, which is surprising because she has created over 450 painted breasts and is still counting. Her sculptures are bringing colour to the streets of Paris (France) and Dublin (Ireland).
Choosing this symbol is a way for Larue to challenge all the taboos and encourage free speech around the topic of female sexuality. Our society, at large, has rendered the female breast in such a light that outside of a sexual context it is seen as a bit uncomfortable, bizarre, and a taboo to talk about breasts. Yet, as a part of the female anatomy, it is as normal as the next thing.
Well aware of the taboos, Larue has taken to the streets with her delicate yet provocative, forward-thinking works. By detaching the breast from the body and making it an autonomous object, Larue invests it with a kind of iconic, almost totemic power. The breasts exist independent of the accompanying body and may be viewed in several contexts. It may speak of feminine pain, or a loss of femininity, fragility in a patriarchal society. Some viewers have even interpreted it as a talking point for breast cancer survivors. Sometimes, she paints on symbols like a tie to show the strong hold men have on femininity and its representation.
Larue’s process is a meditation on fragility, freedom, and colour. She draws on inspiration from the quotidian - old typography books, Art Nouveau, and fingernail art - but she revels most in finding the right corners for her work, for which she has a keen curatorial eye. Boulevards are out, as are most low spaces, so she climbs - rubbish bins, poles, pipes, ladders and street signs in the nooks and crannies, empty niches, even near the sewers, anything that will allow the sculptures to be seen and not touched.
Placement is paramount, and for that she avoids school grounds and religious buildings. Some of her sculptures were just pilfered, and to counter that she began making them even more fragile so that they break if someone tries to detach them from the wall. Larue is very clear that she is not making collectable objects for people’s personal consumption, but public art that has a message to deliver in the public domain. One can say that Intra Larue’s work is provocative, smart, and original in its execution.