Kamel Mennour

Marie Bovo

08 Sep - 08 Oct 2011

© Marie Bovo
Grisaille 217, 2010.
Tirage ilfochrome, 130 x 165 cm.
Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris.
8 September - 8 October 2011

Kamel Mennour is pleased to present “Grisailles”, Marie Bovo’s third solo exhibition at the gallery.
Marie Bovo has been photographing the strange luminosity of night for a long time: neon lights, in Japan and elsewhere, whose multi-coloured glare burns and pierces the darkness, but also the pale glimmer of the moon and the stars. Humans are absent from these images, as if driven out of this paradise of Mediterranean beaches where the artist installed her camera. The open shutter stretches time, makes several temporalities coexist – that of the human city, which remains out of shot but whose electric lights we guess at; and more mythological ones, of nature, the sea, the sky and the earth. Marie Bovo’s photographs play with the inbetween, duality and paradox. Profoundly rooted in reality, sometimes bringing geopolitical or social implications into play, each of her creations bears witness to a dual view of things, which turns a straightforward and specific situation into the expression of a universal dimension, where the past catches up with the present, where different cultures, in particular those of the Mediterranean world, are brought together.
For her exhibition at galerie kamel mennour, the artist has chosen to present two recent series of works: Cours intérieures (60, rue Mazarine) and Grisailles (47, rue Saint André des Arts), which together mark a turning-point in her work resulting from an increased prominence given to architecture.
The Cours intérieures (2008-2009), photographed by Marie Bovo in a workingclass area of arseille, are intermediary spaces, intercessors between the city, the street and the house. The camera lens is pointed upwards, following the vertical line of these “wells” where the light barely penetrates and where the long exposure captures the sky unfurling above in the form of an immaculate rectangle.
Photographed at different hours of the day and in different seasons, the patch of sky, the washing-lines and the laundry allow the architecture to be read in numerous different ways, at the same time as seeming to be a symbol of the life that inhabits these places. If there is something of the cathedral and a feeling of elevation in these images, where the laundry hanging from the lines seems like a multitude of baroque angels, it is that these were once opulent dwellings, now poor, for which the artist evokes “a form of Pasolini-esque resistance to bourgeois space”.
The reference to old master painting is revealed in the title of Grisailles (2010), a series created in the hallways leading to the courtyards of the very same apartment buildings. This series has been photographed using a very similar set of camera angles – here too, the camera is tilted upwards – but the topographical markers are missing. The subject this time is flaking ceilings, a lunar landscape of damaged mouldings that still carry the traces of gray paint that was meant to imitate stone, and which bears witness to the history of these places. It is this multi-layering of colours and uses that Marie Bovo scrutinises, where architecture becomes the background to this strange colour, grey – “the colour of ageing, of loss, of disintegration, it belongs to the realm of holes, gaps, the negative...” From then on, we find ourselves faced with a study of the variations of light and colour, their changing meteorology: “their architecture remains important but like a negative geometry, a void that turns our sense of perspective and presence upside down and defies all conceptualisation.”*

* Régis Durand, “Marie Bovo, l’historicité du quotidien” [Marie Bovo, the historicity of the everyday], artpress 373, December 2010.

Born in Alicante in 1967, Marie Bovo lives and works in Marseille.
Her work has recently been shown at the Palazzo Zenobio as part of the 54th
Venice Biennale, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Centre de Création Contemporaine in Tours, Luìs Serpa Projectos in Lisbon, the Collections de Saint-Cyprien, the Maison de la Photographie in Toulon, the City of Marseille Ateliers, the [mac] Musée d’Art Contemporain in Marseille, the Caszuidas Screen in Amsterdam and the Federation Square in Melbourne.

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