Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet — Nadine, Michel & Michel
Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet
Nadine, Michel & Michel
Past: February 1 → March 15, 2014
« Christ had said that souls, in order to be admitted into Heaven, must be righteous. Swedenborg added that they must also be intelligent; later on Blake stipulated that they should be artists and poets. »
Jorge Luis Borges, The Book of Imaginary Beings, Penguin books, 1974, p.137
Many have already become acquainted to this multi-facetted body of work. We repeatedly hear how the duo formed by Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet is bewildering, at times expatiative, as well as elusive. Some may even have a hard time telling them apart when they dress in their lecturer suits. It is therefore not without a gist of humour that they offer us, between surveys and minute inventories, a performance meant to help those who have no memory for faces. To these virtuoso of disguise, aware that they are of how public speech is forthwith theatrical, and how a simple accessory can facilitate time travel, the performances quickly filled their role in the preparation — or extension — of films, exquisitely D.I.Y., that they have been directing for the past few years, and whose genre relentlessly wavers. We will nevertheless underline, unassumingly, a pronounced taste for the creation of suspense works, for which the duo surrounds itself with a brilliant team, and stages a series of singular portraits: a young captive, of noble descent, wandering endlessly in dreary underground passages, fearing for her life, like something out of an English gothic novel, like The Monk, by Lewis. Or, another, of a young elegant man, from the great period of the spleen, who has a very peculiar painful relationship with the surrounding space. Enthralled by the supernatural, the latter will literally be attacked by the wallpaper on his walls, which, after a heinous repulsion, will eventually and genuinely drown our hero under streams of blood.
The performances are privileged moments. They tell us of the value and charm of what briefly appears and leaves but little trace, if the fleeting expression of an enigma for the memory. They seem to evoke the existence of someone or something that artificially ages. The whole works of Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet would be such stuff as this famous moment of Italian cinema, when Fellini films in the Rome underground the quasi-immediate flight of sublime roman figures, vanishing into thin air. The artists always apply themselves to sharing the pleasure that exists in being at the heart of the polyphony of the world, and in playing with oral transmission, which can, as it does in the exhibition, lead other insiders into taking over frameworks, calculated with utmost passion.
The exhibition Nadine, Michel and Michel is like a standalone book, inside which small successive cells indicate a differential experience of the languages (oral, written, filmed). It also seems to act as a film would, one which shows a dynamic and never-ending dispatch towards a meaning -but never final. To start, the visitor knows what to expect, even before opening the door. Let’s say he only has to unravel the thread. The artists are reaching out to him, through a text visible on the window, indicating in a clear and simple manner that the story evolves. This text is also meant for the three persons who, in turn, for the length of the exhibition, will embody the stories given to them beforehand. Yes, you will understand quite quickly. Nadine, Michel and Michel are subaquatic archaeologists — their mission is to embody three different scripts, thanks to which they can aspire to create variations as well as command an ever-stronger meaning to an ever-moving installment of phrasal fragments. The performance will repeat itself, but will be of short length. The consultation of the booklets done by the artists will last the time each spectator will give to it. And to adopt, in their own way, the profound metonymic nature of cinema, the treasure hunt will be maintained through the projection of a sequence of their next film, A Water Way, freeing itself from the blossoming of a freely flowing and continuous staging, to favour an assembly, taking into account the exhibition in its entirety.
This time, our two cinema lovers, bookworms, smitten ground investigators, link together their latest obsessions (the benefaction of spring water, and the eternal life of fish-men creatures) to a network of places, historical facts and marginal films. In the same way that this duo of artists practices orally, through performances, an elaborately constructed imaginary, there will always remain what makes them so wondrous and ambiguous: a comedy behaviour, not denying a certain innocence, which offers us, thanks to specific modulations, floating moments and silences, this moment — as tangible as it can be — when something seems to arise, to improvise itself, through a unity of cultural and oratory codes.