Bussy St Martin, Domaine de Rentilly

Borsalino hat placed on the head of a statue.

One of the statues in the park, a representation of an ancient discus thrower, had a brown felt hat made specially for the occasion placed on its head. This clearly anachronistic clothing accessory makes reference to the hat worn by Freddy Krueger in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (a character who kills sleeping people in their dreams). Through this detail emblematic of the character of Freddy Krueger, the piece highlights the alteration of the statue’s hand – another of Freddy’s essential features- and initiates a likening of the sculpted figure to the cinematic one.

The cinematographic reference gives the discus thrower a vague aura of violence, which highlights the strength gathered in the statue’s pose. By this same token, the reference throws the perception of this energy into question within the context of the passage of time and the marks its inflicts on the athlete’s body (contrarily bearing witness to a kind of apathy and passivity, as well as a fusion with the vast landscape).

In it’s own way, the athlete’s pose recuperates the inversion of images from the installation dedicated to Marienbad and, by way of one of its characteristic figures (a statue in a park, offering a particular point of view on the castle), invites visitors to reconsider Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s work through the prism of Wes Craven’s film. It highlights how, beyond the threat of falling asleep that the film can have for certain viewers, and which they attribute to a feeling of boredom, Last Year at Marienbad can be interpreted as a kind of waking nightmare that inflicts a real violence on its characters while suspending them in an indeterminate temporality.

The work’s heterogeneous elements display this ambivalence – this energy that is present, yet contained – lively, yet controlled. Through the combination of old materials and new, and references both classic and contemporary, the statue is inscribed in an ambivalent temporality like the characters from Last Year at Marienbad but also, and more generally, like that of ghosts ready to awaken.

Freddy Krueger’s disfigured face also alludes to the identity of one of the estate’s former owners, Jacques Menier, and to the allegedly dissolute nocturnal life he led following an airplane accident in 1917. Similarly to the photographs of the estate’s caretaker and those of the castle itself in the installation Overlook, this piece takes on a dimension specific to the history of the place. The installation examines the evolution of Jacques Menier’s emotional and physical suffering through the temporal framework of the Chambres sourdes exhibition and the new function of the Domaine de Rentilly, as well as its propensity to mark places and to resurface at any moment.

Beyond this frame of reference, we might think more broadly of the figure of the bogeyman in the terrified imaginations of children and of Jack Torrance’s fate in the Overlook Hotel maze given the network of references to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining woven by the Cracks in the Landscape installation series scattered throughout the park and the castle.

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Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet