Marseille, Où - Lieu d’exposition pour l’art actuel

Video installation for TV set (or TV set and video-projector) and sheets of paper.
1 or 2 video loops, 8 mn 05.

This montage showing Gene Tierney absorbed in the writing of a love letter is played in a loop on a television set placed on the ground. Sheets of paper, crumpled up or folded into bird shapes, are scattered around its base.

The drafting of the letter is constantly interrupted on the screen. Called into question by the montage’s cyclical structure, or indeed undone entirely by reversal effects that cause the words appearing on the paper to be instantly erased, it never appears to reach its end, within a system that begins to make the scene appear strange, troubling its apparent calm. Simultaneously resolved to the task and yet unable to bring it to fruition, the character appears trapped in Time.

This difficulty in drafting the letter can be interpreted as representing the anxiety inspired by the blank page. Within the montage, the writing process frequently stalls, suffering from the writer’s lack of inspiration. Her thoughts are unable to find any adequate form of expression, as is suggested by the accumulation of crumpled sheets of paper on the floor, forming a material representation of multiple fruitless attempts at writing, a series of abruptly abandoned letters. Nonetheless, the sheets folded into animal shapes put this impression into perspective. They signal the occasional flourish or poetic invention that the character, despite their worth, had abandoned.

The nature of the letter at hand nonetheless invites us to explore certain biographical tangents. Indeed, it forms an allusion to Gene Tierney’s many unhappy love affairs, given that she was unable to find a strong affective connection in a partner for many years or find a relationship supported by her loved ones. Her pearl necklace recalls the tears she has shed and creates a subtle link with the themes and motifs treated within the series.

The montage conveys the character’s lack of contact with her environment, which explains the phenomena of hypnosis in Otto Preminger’s story, of which she is a victim. They draw the figure towards disjointed systems of rhythm and narrative, which cause her to lose touch with reality, notably when, with a stroke of her pen, she rubs out the words she has just written on the page.

Beyond the actress’s tragic loves, the installation thus works to evoke the psychological fragility that marked Gene Tierney’s life. The sheets of crumpled paper on the floor speak of the unreachable memories taken away from her during her residence in a psychiatric clinic. If we consider them as each representing pages torn from her life, they also suggest a certain resistance on the part of her memory, or indeed, with reference to the scene shown on the screen, a degree of inability to fit into daily life.

Similarly based on a short film extract, the installation Xy³ – Nude at the window retroactively comments on this disconcerting situation. Taking on the same mechanical form and enacting similar splitting effects, it likens Dana Andrews to a visitor examining a hollow body, whose identity is made explicit in Whirl/loop.

The installation also exists in a more complex form employing two montages of identical length but differing structures. In this version of Whirl/loop, the second montage is projected onto the floor, upside down, at the base of the television.

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Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet