Martine Neddam – Biography

A woman standing in front of a canvas which shows a desktop with open programs

Martine Neddam, a native of France resident in Amsterdam since 1994, is an artist, research scientist and professor. She uses language as raw material for her art, and many of her works center on the phenomena of speech acts, approaches to communication as well as to language and writing in public space – an interest which goes back to her studies in linguistics from 1975 to 1979. She has been producing text objects (banners, placards, signs) and projecting shadow texts onto museum and gallery walls since 1988. Furthermore, she has also carried out large-format, public contracts in Holland, France and Great Britain.

She has been working with virtual characters since 1996, the first and most famous one being Mouchette which, with respect to the history of Net Art, represents altogether one of the most outstanding works. Mouchette is a fictive thirteen-year-old that has meanwhile acquired cult status, which declines the complete vocabulary of early Web developments with respect to the identity of the Internet’s technical infrastructure. Neddam’s virtual personae function as communications tools such that they have already facilitated the exchange between human beings via the medium of the artistic figure, and thereby anticipated the functionality of Web 2.0.

Some time ago now, the artist, who had previously been completely anonymous on the Web, revealed the secret surrounding Mouchette or David Still, and officially works as a restorer on aging code. Furthermore, Neddam archives the material and devotes herself to the preservation of pages threatened with dissolution. Her characters also serve for the derivation of works in other media. Thus, in 2007, Neddam designed animations from the data inventories of Mouchette for the exhibition »Knotenpunkte« [Nodes] ( Station Museum of Contemporary Art Siegen).

Since then, namely, in the animations, a path to contemporary works such as »MyDesktopLife« can be discerned. Here, she reverses the promise of participation, and places the viewer in a notorious role: while not being able to participate, he must observe. Her tranquil, poetic attitude to the realm of drawing in which we all move is of disconcerting beauty and, occasionally, uncanny poetry. Her work is influenced by those modern magicians of language James Joyce, Virginia Woolfe or Marcel Proust. She also draws on the filmic works of Chris Marker for inspiriation, above all his usage of language.
Martine Neddam also works as a teacher at Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, and is a regular guest professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). Her website.


Author:Matthias Kampmann