The late-19th-century villa that houses the art centre seems lived-in again. In some ground-floor rooms, muffled noises of mechanisms can be heard. A tempestwhistle from a stylus jumping off a disc. The troubling presences of sundry objects – machine-organism hybrids – bring the place to life. Here, an aluminium torus turns endlessly in on itself; there, a conical structure films itself. Elsewhere, a model of a city seems to supplement itself as the exhibition progresses, but outside any chronology.
Reaching beyond a mere fantastical scenario, Bertrand Lamarche proposes something deeper: a series of experiments that reflect an ongoing metamorphosis at work. Though they seem to have a life of their own, these devices should be considered not only as kinetic sculptures but more for the changes of form, body and identity that they entail. Most of his works draw on a vocabulary of geometry and abstraction, ranging from platonic forms to those of modern architecture (cones, toruses, ellipses, spirals, and so on) – figures which are found in thermodynamics and meteorology1 and conducive to transformation. Other recent works accentuate this formal instability; in Réplique, images one might describe as cloudy, radiographic or spectral, and belonging to no defined corpus, form and unravel on the wall. This gradual hypnotic deployment, stemming from the play of concave and convex pressures on mirror paper, plays with our ability to unconsciously identify forms. Lastly, the works of Bertrand Lamarche give material expression to phenomena of physical projection (light, video) but especially to those of the mind.
The disturbing quality of his work is not so much the analogy we make between these forms and everything our minds project onto them (organs, sphincters, reptiles…), but rather the fact that they self-generate, self-transform and self-deform before our eyes. It is this spectacle that unsettles us – the show of constant metamorphosis, which we witness “live”. These forms are not disseminated after the event; they degrade or sublimate themselves in real time, through closed-circuit contraptions – loops that recall the mirror effect of the first video installations in the late ’60s. These are simulacra devoid of trickery, for their technical workings are left visible; the simplicity of their execution contrasts with their evocative power. They record reality, and then the images deliver a different version: degraded by the slow decomposition of their perpetual movement, or amplified by a multiple mise en abîme. We attend an act representing a reality that is displaced – and sometimes even split – into this fictional, fantasy “other”.
The material expression of this passage to another world is undeniably the stuff of science-fiction, but is primarily inspired by architecture and urban planning. The works of Bertrand Lamarche are reduced models and prototypes, with scale play and multiple viewpoints that exacerbate our spatial dizziness. It is a porous approach, at the intersection of different histories of art, in which thoughts on a city will just as likely combine with the field of optical research as with expanded cinema, before possibly being reinterpreted through the prism of psychoanalysis, gender and transgender studies – issues that inform all of his œuvre, albeit in subterranean ways. Bertrand Lamarche’s work holds in equilibrium the representation of shifting identities and formal restraint, in a stance somewhere between admitted fascination and distanciation. With rare subtlety, it gives form to the question of subjectivity.
Translated by Paul Jones
1. The Funnel, which gives the exhibition its title, refers to the shape of tornado clouds.
around the exhibition
“Hospitalities 2008”, Video programme hosted by the 28 structures of Tram, the Paris/Ile-de-France contemporary art network. Film proposed by La Galerie: PS: Jerusalem by Katinka Bock, 2003.
From 7:00 to 8:30 pm
“A time for art”: art criticism workshop.
From 6:00 to 9:00 pm
Publication of Bertrand Lamarche monographic catalogue The Funnel, published by HYX.
From 6:00 to 7:30 pm
Discussion between Bertrand Lamarche and Philippe-Alain Michaud, curator in charge of the film collection at the National Museum of Modern Art – Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.