The exhibition

The exhibition DUBEL AVATAR #diagnosisiscarnaval #iipolar by Nora Renaud, hyper_ analogist, is only a short excerpt of Nora’s intriguing work. Personally affected by bipolar disorder, she is in constant dialogue between the analogue and digital world. She takes analogue seemingly trivial topics virtual, e.g. through a dense almost organic ramification network of hashtags on Instagram and vice versa, moving back many digital icons into the analogue world, like the avatars or the mother hashtag. She pushes this forward and backward translational exploration to a time in the far future when the remains of the digital existence of things will only be remembered by their analogue avatars and the corresponding heritage Nora is progressively building up.

Every piece of her work is symbol, thus creating a new order for seeing and perceiving. Abundantly using the genuine traditional Swiss and Colombian memorabilia, folklore and sacred indigenous symbolism, she creates the “hyper” analogue presence for all items (including the wink of an eye to the classical pharmacy for the naming the avatars’ masks). Even if her objects may hence look a bit rough, imperfect or basic, they can hardly hide a very sensitive and delicate artist. Her art seems to look complex only at first sight; it is definitively worth digging deeper into it - by analogue or digital means.

Before getting back into your world as a hyper analogist, can you tell us a little bit about yourself: Where do you come from, …. a good little traditional bio …?

I was born and grew up in Geneva in a protestant family heritage atmosphere and escaped at the age of 19 to Paris where I studied traditional couture fashion design and worked a few years in fashion business.

I stayed overall 17 years in Paris until I’ve been literally tele-transported to Colombia at the end of the year 2014.

How did you become an artist?

I was always an artist especially as a child, I just did not let it evolve then. Instead, I chose a creative field: Fashion Design that could allow me to find executive jobs for comfort and independence until I went to München in Germany, where friends convinced me to try the entry exams and also convinced the teacher to receive me for the exams at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste (ADBK) section painting.

I passed successfully by revisiting the scream of Munch with paper leftovers, tape, plastic trash bags in a huge format made on the floor.

But…. I got fired during the first month while I was starting to create some pieces around the feminine sex and the teacher said: “Actually Nora, I do not like your style, you are not welcome in my class anymore“!

I was still having a job in Paris anyway and one year later the same Academy proposed me to join again with another teacher, but I decided to deny the offer and rather to accept my condition of being a self-taught and late-bloomer who had no time and no patience for school or patriarchal master figures…

When I was 38 years old, I decided eventually to be confident enough with my own art practice, although I still consider that I am not a career artist, but rather an experimental individual. For example: I condense my whole work through an infinite ramification of hashtags on Instagram, my account is used as a cycle of insta-mantras inside these intuitive hashtags, it is a way to hack the platform, the system and use it as an experimental space to share my vision and my own language.
I receive wonderful feedbacks from Insta profiles; from persons I do not know - what we call followers - that really appreciate some of my posts and also get inspired. And there are even people that read this language as an impulse and therapeutic tool for their own existence and creativity.

What were the trigger points to become an artist?

The trigger points were to recognize most of the survival patterns that I developed during pre-adulthood, constantly reactivated by living on the internet and at the same time by living in Colombia: two places where you survive “en tiempo real “, in real time!
Internet for the fact that it is running its economy by its “ouroboros production cycle”: It means that the users = consumers of the internet auto-generate products by using them online and that can be directly consumed. The patterns of consumption are registered by algorithms and produce what the user already uses. You can look at the hashtag #usersusingused or #houseofusers.

Colombia lives in tiempo real, because it received a heritage of violence and at the same time an impressively beautiful culture and biodiversity. This means that the life there is hyper-sacred and constantly threatened and only the present is alive. Economically and socially the country is the victim of corruption and criminality cycles, the same that is happening to us inside the ouroboros of the social medias.
In Switzerland, I always struggled with my hyper-intuitive nature, living and creating instantaneously, improvising, collecting and recycling, which was all very much out of the usual frames.
On the Internet and in Latin America, this kind of nature fits to the intensity of the life flow.

My practice focuses on communication, traditions, ancestralism, fashion, anthropology, and new media.
The result is often handmade artefacts, “artesanías”, using my own way to interpret ancestral techniques. These pieces hold memory or data of the daily rituals we practice online through social networks platforms using new ways of insta-communication such as chatting, reacting to posts with emojis, webcaming, etc… (e.g.: #copasderituales, #chambaanalogíca, #hashtagponchos etc…).

On Instagram and elsewhere, you describe yourself as a “hyper_analogist”. What do you mean by that?

What I do is to share or hyper share (sometimes 15 o 20 post a day) what I see, what I feel, what I analyse online as the incubation of my work. It is interactive, but in an analogue way.
Being an artist describes the essence of a person that is more driven to freedom and experiments than to some framed realities.
With our everyday life online, we have created new communities and developed some new patterns that have updated some of our specificities.
They describe what we really do and what we can provide to others among these new kinds of communities, so we have new names or titles to describe our actual functions.
_Hyper is for the hyper-connection, we are living a hyper-existence in hyper-connected realities.
Even if you go for example to remote places, the deepest connection you might feel between the earth and yourself is now dependant of this hyper-connected world, even if you switch off your devices.
_Hyper also refers to the bipolar disorder that switches from hyper-manias to hypo-manias with the impossibility to reach a state in a middle line.
_Analogist describes the function of redefining the world through screens (of a smart device) in a way of “meta seeing “.
_Analogist finally refers to the analogue, upgrade version of the visual language that describes the world through digital platforms.

You can look at #archeologyofthenet #hashtagmochilas #hashtagponchos #hashtagrapy #copasderituales …. and see some of these objects that use the symbols and spirit of the internet, they look antique or ancestral and they represent the archaeology of the end of the Internet, a memory of the hyperconnectivity.

How and when did you get the idea to work with avatars? What do they represent for you, for us? How do you work with them? They have very specific names (Litio and Quietapina). Would you like to share the rationale behind those choices?

The way I work is very much in the instant and intuitive, and is also intense, because I need to invent therapies and at the same time, I am a bipolar patient. That’s why I developed a system that functions following my moods to avoid crisis and the traumatizing psychiatric hospitals. I call it the “global primitive survival”.
Last year I woke up at home in Bogotá by receiving a message: make your mask, make your “traje” and go to Switzerland to look for the roots of your roots!

First, I searched online for the list of the last traditional Carnivals in the Swiss Alps, then I learned how to sculpt the masks and designed copies of the Vatican Swiss guard uniforms.

I also proposed to my brother who lives in Basel to come with me on the trip to the swiss alps and he joined, and he became the avatar Litio.
I flew from Bogotá to Frankfurt – then Frankfurt to Basel by train. As soon as I arrived, we “transformed” into the respective avatars Litio and Quietapina and as an initiating Swiss ceremony, we went out in the cold night to get some cash. The morning after, off we went to beautiful Arolla in Valais, then Lötschental, then Fastnacht in Basel and Liestal.

In the Alps, we were running at night through the cold winter. We could not see anything from inside the masks, it was a real trance joining the huge beasts running with flames and bells, while we were also filming everything. It turned out to be a beautiful brother and sister reconnection journey!

Afterwards I went to Rome, Italy with the two avatars to make Vatican touristic clichés photos and meet briefly with the real guards that did not have the right to talk to their fellow bipolar double avatar version. Although of very short duration, I captured this moment, and it has become part of a dense collection of postcards that portray the different trips.

The journey is called #DIAGNOSISISCARNAVAL, #IIPOLAR You can go and look at it up on Instagram.

This double avatar is my personal avatar, but it also represents the addictions and disorders of many users of the internet.

Their faces are shaped by a negative and a positive smile which is the symbol that Wikipedia proposes for bipolar disorder.

As for the contours, they derived from profiles given automaticallyby fbook to users that did not selected their own profile picture. Otherwise, fbook’s algorithm proposes exclusively 2 genders, masculine or feminine. For the Litio mask, I used the masculine gender and for Quietapina I mixed both genders.

This double avatar represents many cyber addictions, the iipolar diagnosis, the Swiss identity and the dependence to the pharmaceutical market and the meta pre-colombinos spirit.  

The ritualistic part of my work with the 2 avatars represents the pre-swiss  origin “Pre_suiza”.

The double avatar has a role of prophesy of the end of the Internet. It is a representation of the human being in a world that would remain without Internet and smart devices and where a return to pure analogy would be irreversible.

Their names both come from the 2 medicines that I am being prescribed: Lithium, which is a mood regulator for bipolar disorder and Quietapina, the dyslexic version of Quetiapina, a powerful antipsychotic (quieta in Spanish which means quiet). The latter is very addictive, which means I can no longer fall asleep naturally.

You use many Swiss clichés and also Colombian archetypes and lots of other symbols. Can you give us some examples and in particular, what did the masks represent at their inception? And today?

I realised that you can deeply connect with tradition by living the clichés physically and by digging into them.

At the moment, I work with the wood left-overs. Most of the pieces that I recycle are coming from construction. Their surface is very industrial. I use traditional hand-tools to dig inside the layers until I can read the vegetal soul of the wood.

It is the same process to revive roots.

Colombia is now part of my identity, a place where I cannot escape my nature … and it is in Colombia that I got all these impulses and the distance to go and search these roots: the roots of the roots.

What did Colombia bring to your work and inspiration? How inspiring was the recent return to Switzerland?

Colombia changed my view of the world and showed me that I almost do not know anything in life but that I am a good container for receiving information, processing and transforming.

So, I use these abilities for my existence and in my works as therapies.

I did not return to Switzerland; I came here for medical reasons and to be here in Switzerland was really important. It is the first time I live here as an adult. It is a real chance to reconnect with my country, my origins and its ambiguity in its multi-identity and to work new handcraft pieces that aim to redefine the Swiss folklore heritage and free the heaviness behind it.

Do you have an ultimate message that your artistic “being” is trying to convey?

Thank you for letting spaces, platforms, agendas receive the messages I want to share and convey. I hope these messages will soon find their way as therapies and inspirations to people that do not feel well and need a little lift!

In previous talks you mentioned that actually you are never performing, because you “are” what you are doing, privately and artistically. Is that just your “normal”? Do you think we could also benefit from that attitude?

What is up next?

Some more “TERAPIA” rituals at Juraplatz art space in Biel, located in a kiosk from a former 1930’s bus station, every 1st day of the month.

A “transe” in the art gallery Allda in Zürich for a group show night to celebrate the 12th and last full moon of the year on December 29th, 2020.


The first group show in the new art gallery Krone Couronne that will open in Biel on 6th February 6th, 2021.