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'L’éclipse' by Lauren Coullard at A.ROMY, Geneva

Lauren Coullard’s exhibition “L’éclipse ” , borrowing its title from Antonioni’s film of the same name, plays on our expectations. The celestial manifestation, however spectacular, is never directly represented in it. For if its “terrestrial light different from all other light” [1] fascinates the eye, the phenomenon– subject of all fears and apocalyptic superstitions before becoming the object of amazement that it now arouses– also nourishes the imagination and metaphor.

 It must be imagined beyond the frame, solely perceivable by its terrestrial spectators through nuances, through contrasts of day and night reverberating on the artist’s canvases. Composing with the dusk of what was at first an occultation, a glare, Coullard creates shades beyond all classifications, colors borrowed from the glow of fireflies, ultra violet rays, the incandescence of comets. For Lauren Coullard is as much a costume maker as she is a lighting engineer– she embellishes her characters with light. Although not immediately recognizable, the faces she paints could be those of actors in a timeless opera, or perhaps those of the audience attending the show that unfolds in the sky. And if this world is a stage, then at any moment the hybrid 1980s vampire extra-terrestrial Klaus Nomi, who fused lyrical chant and new wave, could appear. At a time of nuclear war and space conquest, dressed in clothes straight from the stars, Nomi also saluted the astral phenomenon in a blazing interpretation of his song Total Eclipse:

“Last dance,

Let the entire cast dance, do the dismembered blast dance, as we get atomized

Total eclipse, it’s a total eclipse, it’s a total eclipse of the sun...” [2]

 A decade earlier, before the explosion of neo-liberalism and the AIDS crisis (that will also take Nomi’s life) annihilated utopias and implied that there is no such thing as a future, the first adventures of comic book heroin Yoko Tsuno, a young computer engineer moving between magnetic fluids and technological lands, were published. Travelling back in time, she built the premises of science fiction as a lab for feminist speculations, opening the way to many different possible worlds. In a series of collages of fantastical colors, Coullard interprets these temporal paradoxes and pays tribute to the heroin by overlapping medieval and futurist iconographies, both the sacred and the profane, the cathedral and the spaceship. 

 For if the eclipse is never directly materialized, it is embodied in the exhibition by the sensation of a disintegration of time, of a latency, of a cosmic order that would invite itself– and entrench us– in the domestic space. The artist’s stelae are the manifestation of this phenomenon: barely larger than a matchbox, they are not content to be canonically hung on the wall, but rather find themselves in the gallerist’s pockets or laying on the ground, like stones that would prevent a sheet of paper from flying away—on the assumption that a simple air draught could sweep away this temporary suspension, this confined atmosphere. And if we know that this astronomical conjuncture may prove to be a dangerous liaison, damaging the retina of those who dare to look at it, then perhaps it would be necessary to reinvent the prism through which we perceive this exhibition. 

— Lou Ferrand

[1] Michelangelo Antonioni, « Préface pour Sei Films », 1964, Écrits, Éditions Images Modernes, 2003, p. 233 

[2] Klaus Nomi, Total Eclipse, in Urgh! A Music War, directed by Derek Burbidge (A&M Records), 1982.

1.5.20 — 30.6.20

Photo by Greg Clément

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