Cuddly, 1998, Video.

Cuddly  is a video work by artist Guillaume Paris.

The video features the packaging of an American fabric softener: Cuddly. The model on the packaging is a child. She is reanimated: every ten minutes, the face on the packaging speaks for approximately eight minutes.  The little girl talks, in english, about of Harry Potter. From the presentation of a product, we are now faced with the imagination of a child. Isolated from any commercial context, this portrait-product is autonomous. It can become a symbol of a mass culture (the global success of Harry Potter, taken up by every aspect of marketing); a digest of clichés associated with childhood (the “cuddly” aspect, the innocence, the spontaneity of the spiel, the fascination with magic and the inexplicable (Harry Potter, the sorcerer’s apprentice); or a reflection on advertising and the games of seduction it plays.

The onlooker is faced with several levels of imagery, the identity of what is being looked at has long been lost in the complexity of a system gone autonomous. When presented physically, the pedestal and monitor are the same height as the actual little girl.

Cuddly is a part of Paris’ epic project, begun in 1991, called H.U.M.A.N.W.O.R.L.D. – Holistic and Utopian Multinational Alliance for New World Order and Research in Living and Dying

The project responds to a set of issues relating to multiculturalism, the representation of cultural Otherness, and globalization. Part Gesamt-Experiment and part imaginary museum, H.U.M.A.N.W.O.R.L.D. is an intrinsically pluridisciplinary project. It addresses issues of representation and reification, memory (individual and collective), identity and temporality. The project is based on collaborations with professionals from a wide range of disciplines: anthropologists, sociologists, linguists, art historians, critical theorists, detectives, forensic artists, actors, architects, models, writers, designers, computer programmers, scientists, psychics…

Guillaume Paris (b.1966, Abidjan) grew up moving between African, Southeast Asian and European nations before heading to the United States for his further education. He trained as an engineer and anthropologist ahead of turning to visual arts. These academic outlooks and his culturally rich childhood both play directly into his art practice. His diverse practice focuses on the meaning and (ab)use of identity construction in contemporary culture. He examines the ideological forces at play in consumer capitalism and Western politics, with a particular interest in the persistence of quasi-magical forms of thinking, for example the superstition that presides in finance markets and the enchantment that is created around certain commodities.