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Camille Henrot talks to Ben Luke about her influences—from writers to musicians, film-makers and, of course, other artists—and the cultural experiences that have shaped her life and work.

Exhibition view of Camille Henrot’s Wet Job (2022) Middelheim Museum, June 11 – October 16 2022

Henrot was ​​born in 1978 in Paris and studied film at the École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in the French capital. She uses drawing, painting, sculpture, installation and film to reflect on a huge range of subject matter, from anthropology and the climate emergency, to biodiversity and motherhood, to art history, literature and the excesses of the digital experience. At the heart of her practice is a concern with different forms of language and knowledge and how they are structured and composed.

Installation view of Camille Henrot’s Sweet Days of Discipline (2023), Kunstmuseum St.Gallen

Her work emerges from deep research and is full of intriguing contradictions, awash with fragmentation and disruption yet pregnant with humour and delight. Henrot grapples with the stuff around us and within us; her art explores distinctively how the empirical and the subjective, the outer world and her own private realm, intersect.

She discusses her early and enduring passion for the art of Saul Steinberg and Louise Bourgeois, a profound friendship with the architect and thinker Yona Friedman, finding a kindred experience in the work of Hélène Cixous and Clarice Lispector, her use of musical playlists in the studio, and her fascination with the sadistic violence of Disney cartoons. Plus, she gives insight into her life in the studio and has a profound answer to our ultimate question: “what is art for?”

Installation view of Camille Henrot’s Sweet Days of Discipline (2023), Kunstmuseum St. Gallen

• Camille Henrot’s books Milkyways and Mother Tongue are published by Hatje Cantz and priced £22 and £48.

This podcast is sponsored by Bloomberg Connects, the arts and culture app.

The free app offers access to a vast range of international cultural organisations through a single download, with new guides being added regularly. They include several museums in which Camille Henrot has shown her work, including the Drawing Center in New York and ICA/Boston. If you download the guide to the ICA, you’ll find a comprehensive section on the institute’s exhibitions, including Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s-Today, which runs until 25 February 2024. It features audio and video responses to key works in the show, including those by Ana Mendieta and Keith Piper.

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