La part des choses, episode 3 (Still life)

David Beattie, Thomas Bernardet, Hervé Bréhier, Matt Calderwood, Marc Geneix, Ingo Gerken, Sébastien Maloberti, Navid Nuur, Delphine Reist, Ariel Schlesinger

21 May — 4 July 2010

The Movement Of Things

From the exhibition ‘La part des choses #3/ Still Life’, it will be a question to contemplate sculpture not with solemnity but level headedness, from the viewpoint of an imperfect modernity.

Almost nothing and already everything. Still alive rather than a ‘Still Life’. The quiet life of things as opposed to static dead sculpture. Here, nothing will take place BUT the place. The game will be a subtle one, between what’s been built or rather its structure stripped bare in some spaces, or uncovered in others (Hervé Bréhier, Sébastien Maloberti). In any case, the artists will set a balance through what they bring to it. The project is composed of works which really are ‘part of things’, they’re objects which become rudimentary sculptures and additionally produce a work together. The ensemble is one of a mathematical categorical set but also of a more unpredictable presence: the visitor, passing by, passing in movement. Each visitor reading their own score, where colors and architectural textures are notes, in harmony with the immaterial frame of an invisible text.

A group sculpture, atmospheric: ‘Still Life’. Curiously, the French translate it as ‘nature morte’ (literally ‘dead nature’) where it should be ‘encore en vie’ (still alive), ‘toujours la vie’ (always! to life), ‘moment de vie’ (life moment). There is the suspension of ‘still images’ called a ‘freeze frame’, a term also used to indicate the capture of an audiovisual fragment. Suspension, suspicion, suspense… In this, and in a wider sense the cultural productions of the turn of the 21st century, there’s a kind of enigma which can be associated with the detective novel. We reconstruct the crime scene and then doubt its truthfulness. Where is the art? The works appear as clues, traces of a vanished presence. Here we’re not looking for the culprit, we already know who they are, or rather they’ve owned up: Ingo Gerken, David Beattie, Delphine Reist, Hervé Bréhier, Navid Nuur, Thomas Bernardet, Marc Geneix, Ariel Schlesinger, Matt Calderwood, Sébastien Maloberti.

Suspension: gravity and weightlessness have a role to play in this mise en scène. From the white dust poured on the ground by Hervé Bréhier to Sébastien Maloberti’s plastic cups: it’s the art of the fall and the balance arising out of it. We hold our breath, wait for the event, incorporate the risk, by drinking water from David Nuur’s fountain of youth. A mechanical cosmogony creates a revolution through ellipses, with each installation functioning relative to each other, but free of a fixed center.

This experiment pivots on Ingo Gerken’s installation. On the wall surfaces, lined with white shelves, haloes of elementary pictorial particles are created. Aligned with this, the black rose of Marc Geneix’s stellar sands, contains in its gesture the potential of a crumpled universe, absolved from the total graphitization of a surface. Indeed, the other dimensions, beyond time and space, can be imagined.

‘La part des choses’ allows us to imagine suspended worlds, in equilibrium, such as Matt Calderwood’s’Unfinished Sculpture’, Delphine Reist’s’Curtain!’. It tastes, oozes, flows… We ingest some of the liquid David Nuur proposes us, we inhale the flour and cement splattered by Hervé Bréhier. Something takes place, a series of defined gestures created this shared space; but it can only be perceptible in its division, its segmentation. Everyone took part, like thieves (as the story goes) sharing their booty according to the size of their feet; where the French expression ‘prendre son pied’ (get your kicks) comes from.

Indeed if we look at the exhibition plan, the layout of the ten artists’ work creates a spatial constellation resembling a war plan. ‘Attack openly, but be victorious in secret’ said Sun Tzu in The Art Of War. ‘La part des choses’, is the remainder of an operation which took place before the visitor arrived, and continues afterwards. It functions through movement: of the spectator between things, and the memory which remains.

Sublime overhanging perspectives, are inferred by this grouping’s tense flux, which plays with what exists. Sébastien Maloberti reconstitutes found fragments, overhung by plastic cups containing various liquids colored by tints of materials. The incandescent reds of Forever Young (Ariel Schlesinger), marking the space with a bright and colored encoding.

Dots, lines and stripes form vertical and horizontal planes through which the space meshes. A subtle weave can be perceived, playing with the architecture of the building. In precarious equilibrium, Unfinished Structure by Matt Calderwood (whose name alone could be a sculptural exhibition program), plays on the stability of the structure and two 25kg tins of water. Relative to human body measurements, the relationship of mass in the structure infers a practical, daily scale. Besides, all the elements used are banal everyday objects. It is how they are used which makes them effective in the order of art.

What part does art have in these things?

Art generates infinite discussion, but it has to arise in the chance meeting of a tin of lubricating oil and a curtain, a coffee cup filled with whisky or an ashtray and a fiber optic.

The sum and its parts evoke what Longin called ‘images fabricating images, that’s to say fabricating speech’, of friendly ghosts, ‘still alive’. We smile at Thomas Bernardet’s list, we wonder about the suspense of David Beattie’s Remote Past/Future. We leave, just a little bit lighter, with a memory of dots, lines and planes. Their tone continues to resonate…

Marie de Brugerolles