Michèle Waquant

Le collier et l'arène de Lucca
February 12 - April 13, 1997

Presented within the framework of a collaboration between the Centre international d'art contemporain de Montréal (CIAC) and the 15th Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois, the exhibition Le collier et l'arène de Lucca (The necklace and the Lucca Arena) by Michèle Waquant possesses in its enigmatic title all the possibilities of an intrigue which the spectator will unravel (maybe). Thirty color photographs unveil an unusual scene which takes place in a public Italian place. The scene is that of a long necklace which has escaped from a bag, and circulates from hand to hand like a talisman imbued with prophetic virtues, under the sharp eye of the artist.

Various people come and go, appear and disappear, and lend to the lens and to this improvisation the look of a play and of childhood, creating a sort of ritual to which only they know the parts. In order to accentuate the action, the artist vaporised transparent ink on certain segments of the image in order to underline iconographic details. These cutouts recall cinematographic «close-ups» which stimulate, orient and fix the gaze on the punctum of the image. They also serve as architectonic elements which reframe and recreate the mise en scene, opening it up on this theatre of doubt where the intimate spectacle of human comedy is organised.

The linear presentation of the works reveal a framework of correspondances and dissonances which simulate life in its immediacy and its brevity. These works are as much photographic as videographic, and have much to do with the cristallisation and the impregnation of time and of its effect on beings and things. The two functions of time are at the centre of the philosophical preoccupations of Michèle Waquant. The artist establishes an account of the perpetual shifting between the representation of the real and the apprehension of the world. She therefore empties the figuration of all anecdotes in order to frame a moment, seize a gesture, an action, and to reinvest the image with aesthetic codes, cognitive processes and visual conventions. In The necklace and the Lucca Arena, the sublime is extricated from the picturesque, and it searches among the allegorical figures for those of mystery and banality.