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Tout En Un Plus Trois »
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Exhibition of Elisabeth Ballet, from 21 October 2017 to 25 February 2018
Opening on Friday 20 October, 6:30pm

Curator Frank Lamy assisted by Julien Blanpied

For the MAC VAL, the exhibition around Elisabeth Ballet’s work is the occasion to reconnect with monographic shows by dedicating the entirety of its 1,300 m2 space to this established French artist who had stayed away from the spotlights for a while. “Tout En Un Plus Trois” offers a comprehensive look over more than 30 years of production. However, it is not entirely conceived as a retrospective show since each work, picked from one of the many artist’s series –all featured here- is reactivated for the occasion, reinvented, if not reinterpreted. Curator Frank Lamy rather calls it a “prospective retrospective”. The MAC VAL exhibition thus sheds light on Elisabeth Ballet’s work from the perspective of 2017, telling a story in present instead of past time. Materials and forms build in, complete, repel, attract each other and invite visitors to wander through a big scenography playing with and turning into an architecture; where bodies interact with sculptures, artworks channel our attention, define spaces of protection, create perspectives, turn into sculptures, paths, hallways, and threshold; where sometimes words create artworks and artworks play on words. As always, Elisabeth Ballet scatters bits and pieces of her autobiography by unveiling a subtle opposition between public and private space, drawing the outline of a story.

Elisabeth Ballet’s works usually originate in the experience of a specific site; they are elaborated and constructed out of the constraints and specificities of the occasion for which they are produced. In the case of a retrospective, which by definition is an assemblage of heterogeneous elements, how can original, strong interdependence with the originating locus be conveyed in a secondary space whose architecture is itself very resonant?

We worked out several hypotheses, several scenarios. We made choices. ‘We concentrated on the sculptures independently of the context of their making. They were sampled from the series Vie privée, Sept pièces faciles, Night Roofline and Face-à-main. The material and personal constraints are essential in choosing, creating and conceptually shaping an exhibition.’ And we opted for a retrospective view, preferring autonomous works, simply placed there, as if nonchalantly laid out, in a dandyish arrangement where they reflect the question of place and orchestrate movement. She says: ‘I imagine the works rather as the pieces in an electronic billiards game. Seeing the exhibition is like rebounding from one piece to another.’

An exhibition tells a story/stories. A spatial and mental narrative. This goes beyond the simple fact of bringing together disparate works in the same space. For Ballet, each exhibition is a replayground.

Each of the works here is a fragment, part of a narrative constituted by the series and/or the exhibition for which they were made. The retrospective exhibition samples sections and heterogeneous elements from these narratives, organising them and modulating them in other narrative weaves.