La part de l'ombre

  • La part de l'ombre

    © Oliver Beer

The exhibition planned for next year has the density of a storm-filled sky: invasive, over-the-top and massive, François Mazabraud’s wooden sculpture takes up almost the whole of the ground floor. Its weight is so great that seems only to hold together thanks to a delicate balance. Close by, the anxious figures in the large painting by Matéo Andréa seem compressed against its surface, as if on the point of imploding. In the basement, Oliver Beer’s immersive film propels its spectator into the obscurity of a sewer tunnel where men seem to have invaded a forbidden space...

The scale-model by François Mazabraud returns to one of the most breathtaking disasters of the 21st century: the collapse of Manhattan’s Twins towers and the fall of an economic powerhouse. By flipping the buildings upside down, the artist evokes the apocalyptic nature of the event; with the skyline of the financial district now scraping the ground. In this inversion of natural forces, the base of the scale-model emerges at the top of the sculpture, its whole surface scored with the contours of Iraqi provinces. The two possible readings of the sculpture lend it a certain didactic aspect; notions of rupture and revolution evoked by its form seem also to deal, ironically, with an era in which digital flux allows communication in real-time, and the breaking down of physical borders.

Matéo Andréa maps out the complexity of love as a phenomenon to reveal its ambiguous nature, between the sublimation and destruction of the loved one. Constants of the gender war are represented as great graphical constellations, elevated though painting. Pinned like insects on the surface of the canvas, male and female characters, depicted like cut-outs and deprived of their shadows, are presented like subjects for diagnosis. Beams of light and cage-like forms describe, with forceful lines, a quarrel over recognition and possession, or of hunger for fusion and predation. Otherness and alienation combine until they become indivisible. Matéo Andréa creates a clinical description of “enamoration” i, the torment of love and of loving, the visual impact of which reminds us of Narrative Figuration paintings.

Oliver Beer’s music ii, interpreted by a choir in a magnificent Victorian sewer tunnel, has the gravity of a liturgical chant. The artist uses their voices to stimulate it to resound at its resonant frequencies. This exchange of vibrations gradually activates an aural texture that gives the viewer a sense of being completely immersed in the sound. In an acoustic sense, the resonance reveals a kind of entropy in which the “Amen” sung by the choir progressively dissolves into chaos. When we ask the artist if he chose this deep subterranean place for its allegorical potential, Beer replies with tact that he uses the mathematics of architectural acoustics to evoke emotions whose psychological intensity varies with the context of the execution. He keeps his sound performances free from any literary pathos in order to preserve the ineffable and physical aspects his films.

Marguerite Pilven, December 2011.