Noyade interdite - Don't Drown Now


Bussy St Martin, Domaine de Rentilly

Reinterpreted prohibition signs.

Two signs, placed back to back and bearing the phrases Noyade interdite [No Drowning] and Don’t Drown Now, have been placed in one of the ponds in the Domaine de Rentilly park. These odd replacements for the signs that occupied the same space, prohibiting swimming and ice skating, examine the history of the property through the tragic events that have taken place there and the ghosts that may still live there.

In an effect comparable to that which sets up the détournement of the discus thrower in Freddy, exhibited in another area of the park, the warning exposes, above all, the danger of wandering into the park’s scenery- likened to that of Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s film Last Year at Marienbad thanks to the double relationship of analogy (due to their common motifs) and reflection (by way of a mirror that allows them to both be taken in at once) that the installation February 2011- Return to Marienbad (exhibited in a room on the second floor of the Château de Rentilly) creates between them.

In the space dedicated to the video installation, the viewer is essentially invited to mentally perform a 180 degree inversion of what he sees outside the castle by confronting the reworked images from the film by Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet shown in the video with the park’s scenery, which is simultaneously discovered behind the room’s windows. Showing the consequence that might be brought on by a change in the organization of the landscape’s topographic elements (the immersion of the park’s walking paths in the water of the pond), the signs (the one in English significantly placed upside down) make direct reference to this intellectual process. They thereby reflect the sudden movement of the visitor’s status as a viewer (in the projection space) to that of the figure-actor of an installation (upon finding himself in the park) and of the danger that this change consequentially implies, putting him at the mercy of an environment that, by his very gaze, he has made to move about dangerously. While immobilizing the viewer in the scenery like the statues featured in the video installation, or bent over like Freddy in an attempt to better decipher them, the signs retroactively reflect his loss of bearings in the labyrinth of Marienbad.

As emphasized by the reference to Nicolas Roeg’s film Don’t Look Now proposed by the piece’s title, the visitor finds himself directly threatened by the view on the park from which he himself looked just minutes earlier. This process is not unlike the one introduced by the danger Jack Torrance begins to represent for his wife and his son as he leans over the model of the Hotel Overlook’s maze for the first time.

In the piece February 2011- Return to Marienbad, a pair of binoculars, suspended by wires attached to the ceiling of the projection room on the second floor, enables visitors to view a bench at the other end of the park, where the video’s soundtrack plays through speakers placed in a wooden box attached to the back of the bench. While the idea of drowning as it appears on the sign may well point to the consequences of the water possibly toppling over from the pond and onto visitors, or of its possible flow in the visitor’s direction as he walks insouciantly across the park, it also points – in reference to the movement to the bench that the pair of binoculars induces visitors to follow – to the penetration of these same visitors into the image-laden stratification orchestrated by the installation. It consequently implicates a risk being smothered in the temporality of Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s film, and in the cyclical structure of February 2011- Return to Marienbad. The park thus appears likened to a temporal trap, as in the Comtesse de Ségur’s tale The Forest of Lilacs or like the labyrinth that snares Jack Torrance in The Shining, from which the spectator may have difficulty escaping.

More Images

Shown in

Also in this series

Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet