Virgile Ittah

Selected works by Virgile Ittah

Virgile Ittah
Untitled (For man would remember each murmur)


Mixed wax, marble powder and fabric

75 x 65 x 82 cm

Virgile Ittah’s early work, represented here, is a study in the frailty and transience of human flesh. Life-size abject bodies formed of wax people the gallery space, spectral apparitions that seem un-tethered by gravity. These are trapped in some interstitial zone of being, a limbo between life and death, perhaps even at the moment of the last gasp before the soul flees its mortal shell.

Virgile Ittah
Regarding the Pain of the Other


Mixed wax, marble powder, antique church chair

100 x 130 x 60 cm

This painstaking attention to the detail of human musculature and fleshy frailty recalls the work of Belgian artist Berlinde de Bruckyere, also in the Saatchi Collection. Her process is however more redolent of another artist she references; like Rodin she works to built up the body, rather than carving into it, creating a strangely shifting form, again speaking to the potential release of the life, and the return to inert matter.

Virgile Ittah
Dreams are guilty, absolute and silent by fire


Wax, marble powder, antique industrial stools

148 x 60 x 134 cm

In this she states “When I make a sculpture I’m not trying to make a sculpture, I’m trying to make a living human being’, an effect achieved with uncanny results. Each figure variously represents different autobiographical narratives, and areas of research such as the history of female hysteria. The work Untitled (For man would remember each murmur), is based on her own father’s immigrant status as a Jew of Moroccan origin, in the artists own works “It was a curation of my father’s nostalgia for a country that doesn’t exist anymore...There are no more Jews there, no family – nothing.”

Virgile Ittah
Echoué au seuil de la raison


Mixed wax, marble dust, pair of unique cast iron beds

Dimensions variable

The pale figure, almost melting, bears a particular resonance today in the midst of a migration crisis, in which the bodies of those leaving their home are
mortified at the hands of both smugglers and destination states.

© Natasha Hoare, 2015



Virgile Ittah’s work addresses taboo, marginal subjects, such as the status of illegal workers and the representation of the dead body. Her exploration centres on notions of subjectivity, identity and embodiment. The state of constant passage and flux in which migrants exist forces them into a state of alterity; of falling between national and cultural identities. This investigation is wrought through an attempt to explore the body as a territory upon which such questions about the nature of subjective experience, (the workings of the psyche), can be perceived and described. The material choices Ittah makes and the processes she selects are critical to her approach and to the intended reading of the work; wax functions as a means to explore the alteration of the body after death and the consequences of this changed state on our perception of the subject. Her probing of the spaces between subject and object, corporeal and imaginative truth, points the viewer to socio-political questions about control and power in relation to the status of the illegal worker within Western society.