There is no mystery; Dorothée Smith’s approach to the visible, at once luminarist and dark, is valid as an image of the uncertainty of sexual roles. Questions of gender, a current in philosophy over the last twenty years or more, occupy an important place in the intellectual development of her oeuvre. In her world, into which a certain violence occasionally erupts, faces betraying an inexpressible tenderness, a lost look in the eyes, bodies surrendered in a heat-haze of intimacy, the warmth of ice-floes sublimated into breath, deserted horizons –these are polarised like magnetic auroras by the new style of challenge that the modern world hurls at the separation of the sexes. It is more a question of metamorphosis than metaphor. […] Torpor, by turns voluptuous and disturbing, seems to spread from here to the entire universe, beckoning towards a world that is, at times, Edenic; at times, touched by the coldness of disenchantment. We are at the heart of post-modern, or rather, hypermodern dissonance, because any urge for emancipation is an urge for “modernity”. […] These works display evident political valencies: that of gender identity as a constraint imposed by the biological fact of “sex” (being a man or a woman); that of an ideal of fully belonging to oneself, capable of overcoming this bondage by asserting things differently (feeling oneself to be a man or a woman). But this movement towards acceptance seems to be accompanied by an existential shadow. In our conception of consciousness, do we not, each one of us, appear to ourselves as, at least in part, a stranger? Inextricably attached as (s)he is to self-assertion, the individual is inevitably exposed to nostalgia for a kind of distance vis-à-vis her/himself. And those who deviate from the norm are surely doing no more than posing, more poignantly than anyone else, the whole question of being, of the self taking hold of the self – a question that is, after all, fundamental to the human condition.
Arnaud Claass, Löyly & Sub Limis, monograph, Château d’Eau Editions, 2011.