For Agnès Geoffray, the epigraph of the novel The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates was a vision. Words taken from the Journal of Dr. Moses, written at the end of the 19th century, exposing the symptoms of hydropsychism, a sort of Stendhal syndrome of Niagara Falls: “the eyes of the bewitched victim are fixed and dilated”, the eye hypnotized by the cataract, the will of the soul crushed, the body chained to its fatal disgrace… if a firm arm did not hold him back, firm enough to fight against the mad aspiration of the void.
Under the title Les Chutes Agnès Geoffray has made images of her vision: reproduction by capture, stereoscopic views, glass plates by anonymous 19th century artists, engravings by old masters, press photo-engravings, book covers, and stagings with women , hand, butterfly, eyes. The collection of old representations, their captures, documenting games of emptiness and heights, of admiration and fascination: silhouettes on the edge of the precipice in the manner of scenes of nature of a William Gilpin in the 18th century, or contemplating from a shelter the foaming white trail, a tightrope walker on a rope; tumultuous water games that run towards the gaze whose bubbling flow could carry away, in the distance rear up just before crashing on frail dwellings, fighting the rescue of an unconscious woman, held by a man with a steady arm treading the waves. From landscape shots to romantic shots, an invisible thread is woven. Air and water are found in the staging of female bodies in an environment that accentuates their loneliness: a woman at the bottom of the water, seated in a vaporous white dress; on a promontory, the blue of the dress sculpted by the wind playing with the luminous varieties of the sky and the sea. wet cloud of molecules from the collapsing of tons of water.
We are waiting for a body to fall. You won’t see it, murmurs Agnès Geoffray. The drama is in the gaps, like the devil is in the details. Between the time of desire which is flight, rapture, and the time of the ravished body, dispossessed of its own orientation, there is the vertigo of uprooting. Agnès Geoffray’s images oscillate between two ways of flying. Two ways of calling the transport: in the clouds of a reverie, or in the spray erasing the fall of the body.
Everything is played out on the periphery of the spectator’s eye where images contaminated with hydracropsychism and the transport of rapture and its fall. Because Les Chutes dates back to Madame Bovary’s great bath imagery of the century. Agnès Geoffray extracted and created a game of spatiotemporal gaps. None of these images stirs the fury of an eye, and the round dance woven by an invisible link passes indifferently like a suspense of the effect of nature that Agnès Geoffray did not compose, and that we qualify as sublime. , of romantic states of solitude of the body and the soul, between expectation and bewitchment. The trance is at work. At the same time transport of air and water, passage of ups and downs, near and far, crossing space in time between imagery, old images, staging. The gaps between form and passion of the imagination composed here and there internalized sensations. The invisible thread weaves what the soul is silent about.
The vertigo of the contemporary is the operation of a lost but free thread to reconnect under the system of the sensitive. Hand with a red thread on the ring finger, moth, faceless eyes, women floating in murky water or facing the wind… it seems like there is no connection, where are the falls? Taken aback as at a screening, we wait for a shot that is late and which, in the end, does not arrive. The fact of waiting, of anticipating a sequence is not done without images external to those that we make for ourselves, like bodies that make us fantasize, and create visions where all inclinations are possible. Agnès Geoffray dodges the shock, the monstrum, the demonstration. Not showing the fall is an art and an exercise in muscular resistance: to unchain yourself instead of unleashing yourself in pain over the loss. Making an image here amounts to creating primers, less bait or seduction than a wick of indeterminate length, which may not reach the powder keg. No butterfly at the bottom of the net. On a black background, the wings animate flights and falls. No ring on the finger marked in red,… but a thread with ends free to twirl, tied and untied according to the wind.
Resisting the panel of resemblances, playing against its most illustrative forms, thwarting the collapse or the psychopathological model, in fine, Les Chutes is the haunting of visions: the “fixed and dilated eyes” summon our imaginary drifting. The games of deviations do not team up with the image of a fatal reality, they dance and jump on the retinas as on the walls. Agnès Geoffray has the firm but flexible arm of the partner with whom we dance the first time. Everything moves while everything is fixed, overflows despite the edges, an art returned to its floating power. It is up to the spectator to fall, to dream, to fantasize a new inclination, the body in the empty space of its solitude, the gaze no longer responds, absorbed by the vertigo of visions.
Corinne Rondeau, art critic
Agnès Geoffray : Les Chutes
September 3 – October 23, 2022
20 Rue Saint-Gilles