xy3 - Nude at the Window


Paris, Galerie la Ferronnerie

Video installation for 1 video-projector with shelf and crystal objects.
1 video editing, 3 mn 08.

A montage is projected onto a white wall, showing a very short extract of Otto Preminger’s Laura (1944). A glass stack of shelves has been assembled on the wall, displaying bottles and carafes. The shelves obscure the lower third of the projection.

The work’s title, xy3, suggests an invasion into the realms of physics and genetics. It reduces the entire piece to an application of mathematics, an exercise in style, indeed a disembodied scientific formula set in opposition to the subtitle, Nude at the window, which instead emphasises the piece’s reliance on tangible data and its figurative dimension. The use of the word nu (nude), which creates a clear allusion to Marcel Duchamp’s Nude descending a staircase (1912) – one of the work’s principal points of reference- nonetheless detracts from the central concerns of this representation.

As is attested by the scene from Laura used in the montage, there is no question of any bodily nudity here, since the figure that appears is fully dressed, wearing a hat. Instead, the piece dwells on a more intimate process of undressing, one that exposes the subject’s very identity. This reality being unveiled by the representation constitutes a key focus of the piece, casting the work as an enigma that the visitor is invited to decipher.

As well as the obscure piece title, the principle of deciphering is felt equally strongly through the narrative data proffered by the montage, with its highly assertive plot structure. A character is seen (Lieutenant Mark McPherson played by Dana Andrews in Preminger’s production) pausing in front of a crystal object whose purpose appears difficult to determine. He picks it up from the window display, moves it around, examines it and drifts off into contemplation, before returning it to the place it was originally displayed. We may begin to wonder whether the nudity evoked in the piece’s subtitle refers more directly to that of the object engrossing the character than that of his own body. Should we re-imagine the object of his desire as a substituted representation of another body that Lieutenant McPherson dreams of possessing, in line with the story related by Preminger’s film?

It is precisely the nature (it is almost tempting to say gender) of this object that lays the character bare, as in the case of Duchamp’s mariée par ses célibataires (bride stripped bare by her bachelors). The setting creates a game of diffraction around the character’s body, which is further displaced by the reflective ready made bottles and carafes positioned near the surface of the projection so as to obscure spectators perception of the body from certain angles. This diffraction suggests the materialisation of an act of undressing, in which the individual, in line with the treatment given to Laura in Preminger’s film, gradually reveals the multiplicity of points of view from which they can be seen.

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Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet