Ajee’s Kosplay

The organic fluidity of nature contrasted against an angular, urban aesthetic. Embodiments of life and reminders of death placed in proximity to one another. The utterly bestial playing against suggestively sexual feminine forms. All apt descriptors for the dichotomy within the works of French artist Anne Juliette Deschamps, who frequently used the guise Ajee. And while her first sculptural character, SkullSkin (2008), incorporated them into its womanly shape with a removable skull mask, it was her sophomore designer toy outing, Kosplay, that felt more encompassing of these philosophies.

Origins of Kosplay

Kosplay consists of two characters, known individually as Kosplay Girl (or simply The Girl) and the Polar Bear, who first manifested as a duo in a sketch by Deschamps in 2010, which she began sculpting herself out of FIMO Air Light polymer clay by Steadtler that same year. True to the title, which is an intentional heterography of cosplay, both of the pieces in Kosplay are masquerading as something other than what they are. Kosplay Girl is a woman and thus inherently a symbol of life, but she is adorned with the likeness of the most common image associated with death, a skull, formed from the pastie-like nipple dots, the triangular navel decoration, and the belt buckle representative of an upper jaw. The Polar Bear, symbolic of the power of nature, has eye coloration akin to an endangered panda, emphasizing the fragility of nature even in its strongest form.

Vinyl Editions of Kosplay

Issued by Bonustoyz/Extended Playz at the end of 2011, there were only three color schemes for the vinyl renditions of Kosplay. Pictured above left-to-right, these editions were: the starkly contrasting Black&White (ltd. 400 sets), the vibrantly colored GlowInTheDark (ltd. 140 sets), and the glossy accentuation spotted SolidBlack (ltd. 60 sets). In all these variations, the 8½ inch tall (21½ cm) Girl featured a removable base stand and capelet accessory, her arms being articulated and her head having impressive mobility atop a ball joint, while the 4½ inch tall (11½ cm) Polar Bear simply stands statuesque.

Porcelain Editions of Kosplay

Beginning in early 2012, handmade rendition of the pair were issued in Limoges porcelain, executed in the material by K.Olin tribu. Slightly shrunken in size, with The Girl standing 7⅞ inches tall (21 cm) and the Polar Bear being 4⅓ inches tall (11 cm), these were issued in extremely limited, numbered editions. Pictured above, left-to-right, these editions were: the original, solid white rendition (Mar. 2012, ltd. 12 sets), the Tomenosuke 6th anniversary celebration exclusive Gold version (Sept. 2012, ltd. 6 sets), and the Platine, or Platinum, color scheme (Oct. 2013, ltd. 12 sets).

Resin Editions of the Polar Bear

Deschamps reimagined the Polar Bear component of Kosplay as a stand-alone form in 2012, sculpting it afresh at a height of 14 inches (35 cm). Cast in resin and finished with acrylic paints, this rendition — Wild Goods — was displayed at Paris’ SLICK Art Fair in October of 2012, presented for the event by the Art Prestige Concept Gallery. Limited to only 8 pieces, with spot coloration on some, these sculptures emphasized that natural element of Kosplay at the cost of the symbolism expressed through the panda decoration and The Girl‘s accompaniment.
But further meaning was reasserted with the All Words White and All Words Ice color schemes in 2014, painted phrases like “Fresh to Death” and “Furry Paradise” becoming reminders of how humanity’s presence can negatively impact nature. Both limited to 3 pieces plus 1 artist proof copy, each numbered and signed by Deschamps, these were joined by the similarly sized Fur series edition, consisting of the mostly blue First Fur, the transitiional Second Fur, and the entirely pinkish-red Third Fur.

Fiberglass Editions of the Polar Bear

Deschamps then debuted a lifesize, 47¼ inch tall (120 cm) fiberglass rendition of the Polar Bear in April of 2014, shown as part of the OFF-Programme Art Fair in Brussels, Belgium. Decorated with its title, Fresh to Death, on its flank, this led the way for 2015’s White edition of 8 signed and numbered pieces (plus 4 artist proof copies), one of which was displayed in Paris’ Parc Montsouris from October of 2016 until January 2017. Returning the emphasis to the fragility of nature, especially the arctic, the De glace (or Of ice) rendition projected video mapping of the Helheim Glacier calving onto the fiberglass form. And with Deschamps continuing to visually communicate the complex relationship between humankind and the environment, she has expressed a desire to bring her statement sculptures full circle by creating a lifesize rendition of Kosplay Girl to accompany her nearly 4 foot tall Polar Bear pieces, which together is her ultimate expression of the resilience of nature and its uncertain future.

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