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« Devenirs » by Nolwenn Brod at the Maison des Arts in Grand Quevilly


The exhibition Devenirs, which opened on November 3 at the Maison des Arts de Grand Quevilly, features four photographic series by Nolwenn Brod: Va t’en me perdre où tu voudras [Go on and lose me wherever you’d like]; Ar Gouren et autres visions [Ar Gouren and other visions]; Même une jument est une espèce d’homme [Even a mare is a type of person] (a series produced as part of a residency at the Maison des Arts de Grand Quevilly in the summer of 2015); and La Ritournelle [The Refrain] (a work in progress), as well as a film entitled La Lutte [The Struggle]. The exhibition will be on view until December 23.

On the occasion of the exhibition, Editions Poursuite has published a book retracing the artist’s discovery of southern Ireland. Va t’en me perdre où tu voudras is accompanied by a poem by Amaury da Cunha.

The photographs represent landscapes disguised as portraits—unless it’s the other way around. The vegetation of the Celtic lands of verdant Ireland or ageless Brittany metamorphoses into immaterial forms, as if recalling the dense foliage of Nicolas Poussin’s garden of Eden. For Nolwenn Brod’s photography has the attention of a painter applying delicate dabs of color. Thus it is the quivering leaves of silver that bring the motionless tree closer to us.

The texture brings to mind velvet or wool; or the pattern of the beautiful pelt of an animal that is no longer there, unless as an abstraction that clings to one’s back. Elements are dissolved like identities and buried in spume. And bodies come out at twighlight, like stags emerging from the undergrowth. But we are far from the rites they evoke. Archaic, carnal, spirited, these bodies tell another story that is played out over and over again—a story that must not be all too obvious. If the young wrestlers were alone, they would have only nature as their reliquary. All-encompassing, nature seals off the animality in man and beast alike, adhering to their breath where everything seems to become breath, when the two wrestlers are no longer fused together in the same trance The seeming normality of their posture conceals a deeper metamorphosis, but the gestures they embody belong outside, beyond, or in parallel to their tangible existence. The creator has not given them full definition; she has made them incomplete. And in a sort of homage to William Faulkner, she leaves us guessing as to the era to which they belong. Rather, there are concomitant temporalities in which vertiginous identities oscillate between appearance and disappearance. Swinging from vine to vine, these creatures are chimeras of an epiphany that takes place between the photographer and something that existed before her, be it real or not. She knows the faces of her subjects intimately. On her long solitary walks in places teeming with lives for her to capture, she allows them all to approach her.

This flickering beauty leaves an impression of imperceptibility and a sort of amnesia that these photographs designate. It’s not a question of mythology or pagan rites; rather, it’s a question of entering passages made of rifts and sediments. The Refrain murmurs in the ear of those who know how to look at a face and get mesmerized by what it is trying to say. If the video makes it possible to fully expand a photograph in space, photography, in turn, favors elaboration. A strong sense of place informs the work of Nolwenn Brod and penetrates the wounds of an internal struggle which, captivated by images, unfolds like a bud, both shameless and portentous.

Maison des Arts de Grand Quevilly
From November 3rd to December 23rd, 2015
Esplanade Tony Larue
76 120 Grand Quevilly

Va t’en me perdres où tu voudras
© Nolwenn Brod, 2015
500 copies
ISBN : 978-2918960-81-2

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