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Muriel Rodolosse ̸

Dossier mis à jour le 18 juin 2021

The exhibition in question

Corinne de Thoury, 2011

The exhibition principle of Muriel Rodolosse is not in keeping with hanging in the classic sense of the term, that is in attaching paintings to the walls in the most skilful manner possible. It rests on a questioning directly linked to painting, as it considers the exhibition as a medium that allows something to be said about what painting is.

More often than not, the exhibition space has led to the creation of the paintings. In other words, the work has in a sense integrated, before effectively existing, the question of its appearing. As for the space, with its own constraints, it is increased in its function as receptacle to present itself as an argument. The exhibition space becomes a means to make painting spill out, to talk of its absence of framework and its impossible fixidity ; better still, it is in the end no different from painting since it is the opportunity to experiment with a de-localisation. It is necessary here to remember that the pictorial practise of the artist consists in painting behind Plexiglas, and often blindly. The creation is formed on the reverse, which causes two contradictory effects from the viewpoint of the reception of the work : on the one hand the feeling of sharing with the painter the origin of a creation, the first touches applied being also the first seen. On the other hand, the feeling of being kept at a distance or in a blind state, all the pictorial materiality remaining at the back of the support while the surface of the Plexiglas plays on multiple reflections. The painting shakes up the ordinary modalities of reception, it undoes the order of vision based on stability, and unleashes an aesthetic experience in which it is necessary to invent the very possibilities of a visibility.

It is therefore a matter of supporting the idea that an exhibition is the opportunity to enhance the question of painting by considering that its spaces can be organised on open and closed modes, walls that display and others that conceal, transparency, opacity and ruptures of scale. An exhibition that warns about what one has come to receive : a painting that doesn’t let itself be consumed but desired. In ANCORA ! (Centre d’art contemporain Chapelle Saint-Jacques, Saint-Gaudens, 2007) the object painting powerfully imposes itself through the central presence of a single canvas of large dimensions. Around that kind of evidence, other mediums are displayed, drawings and video, which suspend the actual vision of the painting but take up some of its effects, if not some of its fictions (game of capture between beings, splitting of figures, shifts from front to back, reversal from the biggest to the smallest). We enter the painting, we find our place in it through the images that support and re-kindle the desire ; ANCORA ! is covered and said in one breath (“ENCORE !”)

The exhibition allows the doubling of the physical space onto the mental space, it objectifies the idea that the painting is included in the journey. At least a journey. Which invites us to set off.

Si tendre, Just around the corner (Centre Jules Ferry, Bergerac, 2010), Versteckt just around the corner (Rudi-Dutschke Straße 18, Berlin, 2010), x degrés de déplacement (Frac Aquitaine, Bordeaux 2011) : the titles of the recent exhibitions immediately set a localization. If one takes them at face value, one needs to go and see what there is “just around the corner”, or in those “x degrés de déplacement”. In Berlin, the visitor is welcomed from the street, Versteckt just around the corner is displayed in huge letters on the façade of the gallery. But once across the threshold, a white wall greets him, and launches the exhibition. A virgin surface, the time to erase the image of the façade covered by the imposing visual. A few more steps and it is a piece of large dimensions that appears (haaa… Dada !). Almost counter-nature, it follows the angle of the wall, evading its material rigidity to play with the space physically. Something of the surface unfolds. But to that unfolding is contrasted the withdrawal. Cubic volumes arranged on the floor contradict the direct approach, make the journey more complex and occasionally conceal other smaller pieces. The exhibition operates a break between opening space and space of concealment.

In Bergerac, ironically, one uncovers at the end of the journey, “just around the corner”, a painting of modest dimensions, hidden behind the last wall. From a technical point of view, nothing distinguishes it from the other paintings exhibited (because of the technique employed by the artist, the painting is made on the other side of the Plexiglas). However, the rupture is clear, the small canvas shows a little scene, outdated and picturesque, a kind of Parisian urchin, a non-piece of painting, the artist said.

The just around the corner works signal their source, the Going around the corner piece by Bruce Nauman which, with the use of video, organised for the visitor the actual quest for his own image, like a capture indefinitely deferred. Indeed the localizing announced by Muriel Rodolosse has for the moment foiled the meeting with the work but not the modalities of the meeting.

Evidently the painting never gives itself up instantly, in the immediacy of the gaze caught on its subject ; that is true of all periods, but that is understood even better today, assuming what Walter Benjamin described, namely, the passage of the cultural reception of art to the cultural reception, implying the progressive withdrawal of the original and the multiplicity of the screens. The consequence is double : on the one hand contemporary painting, more than any other mode of expression in view of its history, can put across the question of its visibility and its apprehension. On the other hand, the painter who exhibits today can decide to also show what it is to have an exhibition. Those two paths characterize Muriel Rodolosse’s approach : both an apparatus that demands to question the place of painting while delaying occasionally the exercise of viewing and an exhibition worked on as a medium, questioning its own creation and existence. Produced at the Frac Aquitaine, x degrés de déplacement demonstrates this.

x degrés de déplacement signals a partial geography, that has been given a norm, a rule, without being evaluated. The mobility naturally takes the value of principle here. The spatial and temporal implication of the spectator seems necessary, each defining a strategy of approach, to estimate perhaps along his journeys, his degrees of progress. However, the title warns us : the movement is directed, which takes out the idea of a whole decision and even more makes the eventuality of the walk in the architectural sense of the term disappear. The constraint is part of the meeting, this is confirmed already in the first painting exhibited, the aptly named L’Entrave, which presents the body-tool of a female performance artist risking her own dispersion (her body is fragmented in places) to set off and cross our path (she moves in our direction). What that character seems ready to leave is the environment that we left behind as we entered the Frac Aquitaine, the industrial landscape of the wet dock, painted in the form of signs, as a mnemic image. The will to combine our space with that of the work is striking. In the same way that the forms, in Muriel Rodolosse’s painting always suggest the possibility of a transmission between them, producing hybridization and shifts, x degrés de déplacement, opens onto a potential weaving. By pursuing it, the project takes shape : a painting veers off its wall (Devenir-object), another touches the ground (26 degrés de déplacement), another plays with its own dispersion and that painting is the eponymous piece of the exhibition. Within it are found the female performance artist and the industrial landscape. There one discovers a series of white elements, plinths and battens. In front of the painting, on the floor, similar plinths are arranged of a sufficiently imposing volume to create an obstacle to a fluid path. The gaze is prevented and the viewpoints multiplied. The surface is unfolded in space and the volumes laid flat : the articulations are organized in series. The field is wide for the visitor ; from a devise he will develop a personal story, first constituent of the experience. Then the facts are acknowledged : the paintings tell about the setting in motion of a construction, with its key points, its risked balances, its absences of markers. The promise of a creation, but only the promise. But what creation could it concern if not the creation of the exhibition itself ? The second constituent opens up, the project sustained by Muriel Rodolosse for x degrés de déplacement is that of the construction of an exhibition. The shifting no longer has as purpose the creative reading of an artwork, it tends towards the invention of an exhibition. The performance artist of the eponymous painting is a builder in the making, surrounded by the key elements, plinths and white battens whose use should allow the construction of walls, the organisation of an exhibition space. And she hasn’t build anything yet, the exhibition is in the making, therefore it doesn’t figure in the painting. It is now different temporalities which bang together, opening to the simultaneous experimentation of a process and a result. A new way of saying and sharing the way the artwork organizes and jumbles up at the same time. The artist had warned us, as early as 2007, in residence at the Daura houses, talking about her work : “to shift the centre, to explore the limit, to put the research off-centre”.

Translated by Paul Buck & Catherine Petit

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