Virginie Yassef — Au milieu du Crétacé


Installation, new media, sound - music, mixed media

Virginie Yassef
Au milieu du Crétacé

Past: January 17 → March 1, 2014

Virginie yassef grid Virginie Yassef — Galerie G.-P. & N. Vallois Du 17 janvier au 1er mars, Virginie Yassef présente, à la galerie G.P. & N. Vallois, « Au milieu du Crétacé », une exposition perso... 2 - Bien Critique

A country road. A tree.


Estragon, sitting on a low mound, is trying to take off his boot. He pulls at it with both hands, panting. He gives up, exhausted, rests, tries again. As before.

Enter Vladimir.

Virginie yassef sce nario fanto me sf 90 medium
Virginie Yassef, Scénario fantôme 90, 2012 6 x 9 cm (each element) Edition from 1 + E.A — 6 × 9 cm (each element) Edition from 1 + E.A Courtesy of the artist & Galerie G-P & N Vallois, Paris

These lines introducing the first scene of Waiting for Godot (1952) by Samuel Beckett could almost be à propos to accompany this proposition by Virginie Yassef. They ignite our imagination and immediately immerse us in a certain theatre of the absurd. Indeed, the promenade at the Vallois gallery starts with a tree trunk, the very one that obstructed the rue des Cascades in Ménilmontant during this year’s Nuit Blanche event in Paris. Confusion was at its height around L’Objet du doute (2013). “Is it marble?” was one question being asked. Not far from here, in the Tuileries Gardens, The Tree of Vowels by Giuseppe Penone surely triggers similar poetic comments. Then suddenly, Yassef’s tree, like a real fictional character, stirs. As if drawing its last breath…

Virginie yassef sce nario fanto me sf 88 medium
Virginie Yassef, Scénario fantôme 88, 2012 2 colour photographs — 6 × 9 cm (each element) Edition from 1 + E.A Courtesy of the artist & Galerie G-P & N Vallois, Paris

Beyond this treacherous appearance is a clearing presenting various works which expand upon the recent exhibitions at La Galerie in Noisy-le-Sec (A Wall of Sand Has Just Collapsed, December 2012 to February 2013) and at La Ferme du Buisson in Noisiel (The Monkey Sign with Julien Bismuth, April to October 2013). They are accompanied by a selection of Ghost Scenarios, a series of enigmatic photographs which Yassef has been developing since 2003 and function as would a narrative predella panels in Italian painting. The 2012 installation in Noisy-le-Sec, No one has ever seen a dog deliberately exchange a bone with another dog, was partly inspired by Investigations of a Dog (1922) by Franz Kafka1; this piece was the beginning of a long-term commitment towards the kind of staging and scenography encountered in theatre. It was the backdrop for a mutant show during which, between Noisy and Noisiel, a child transformed into a dog. Here, one of the elements becomes a peacock feather wheel: this motorised deployment exaggerates this animal’s extraordinarily seductive exhibitionism.

Virginie yassef sce nario fanto me sf 89 medium
Virginie Yassef, Scénario fantôme 89, 2012 2 colour photographs — 6 × 9 cm (each element) Edition from 1 + E.A Courtesy of the artist & Galerie G-P & N Vallois, Paris

In this same environment, which isn’t so dissimilar to those created by Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno, the viewer is invited to listen to a conversation, worthy of Beckett’s play or the exchanges between the dogs in Kafka’s text. Several fake stones and logs gathered here question human behaviour. Yassef suggests we “witness the sculptures” which are “all set to talk”. In October 2013, nature in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont with its famous concrete trompe-l’oeil reproductions led the artist to put together a two-part live experience on and around an empty plinth. In so doing, she managed to avoid its classical constraints. From resin to polystyrene and painted cardboard, the trick materials are far from traditional bronze and closer to Disney, theatre, or science fiction films. Orality, sound, movement and the tactile attraction to elucidate these mysterious illusions are all at play to amplify the potential for wonderment.

“To be continued” was Emilie Renard’s title for her interview with Virginie Yassef. Indeed!

1 The Investigations of a Dog, a project by Virginie Yassef for LE SOCLE, 18 and 19 October 2013. LE SOCLE is a programme initiated by the On The Roof collective in the context of the Festival Les Uns Chez Les Autres which is organised by the town hall of the 19th arrondissement in Paris.

Caroline Hancock
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