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Curated by Rosario Caltabiano and Nathalie Desmet
The work of Jean -Baptiste Caron refers to the thin, the invisible and the intangible. For several years, he has tracked the imperceptible differences that natural laws inflict on the body, like gravity. He diverts the expected effects - reversing the heavy, light, low, high, material, intangible - and is interested in materials or particles suspended in the air or almost invisible objects, such as dust which feels nevertheless this attraction. He subjects them to physical or natural phenomena, such as wind or fog, but sometimes to illusionists techniques he has been practicing for many years. All this makes sense when it comes to better identify what escapes the gravity of the real world, precisely in what it has in weighing. Jean- Baptiste Caron then seeks to create intermediate spaces closer to the weightlessness of space which do not necessarily have physical existence, but they are inevitably related. With 44,96 m² , he abandoned the verticality in favor of a horizontal display and offers a manipulation of the gallery space and its perception. He also invites us to experience another place by transforming the real place that can be a serious gallery in a fictitious and imaginary space, which as expected must escape the rules of attraction.
INTERVIEW WITH JEAN-BAPTISTE CARON, APRIL 2011
(by Nathalie Desmet)
N. Desmet : With 44.96 m², you manipulate the name of the gallery and its exhibition space to ask us to experience a space that does not actually exist. How did you get this idea?
JB Caron : When I went for the first time in the gallery, I turned towards the street and the reflexion of the window gave me an image that gave me the impression of being thrown out of space. I wanted to amplify the natural reflection with a set of mirrors. This is an extension of what you can already feel when you are in the gallery facing the windows that reflect us and move virtually outside. I have emphasized that the real, threatened the projected outward space. This project is rooted in an earlier proposal in which I used mirrors. It was six cubes which showed a set of reflexions by six different ways to get an empty cube (mirror complemented the missing space), but the mirrors were turned inward.
N. Desmet : Here the image reflected by the mirror is barely visible or accessible to the viewer, it is if you open the door but gallery will remain closed since the time of your show, why?
JB Caron : Here the mirrors simply reflect the space as such. From this point of view the mirrors reflect what can be viewed partially , the rest of the way is done through a mental construction . It is a work that must exist in the imagination . If I came to close the gallery, this is not a provocation , but to avoid at all costs that the viewer does not cross his image, to escape the attractive and narcissistic effect of the mirror. Of course , I am totally aware of not being the first to propose to close a gallery. I think for example about Robert Barry with Closed gallery rooms . However with 44.96 m² closure is only incidental, it is a way to highlight my proposal.
N. Desmet : By the way, is it really a closing?
JB Caron : By obstructing the gallery with mirrors, this is not the gallery entity that I want to highlight. It is rather a means to open outwards, to reach a wider audience with its accessibility. Some think that the proposal is radical, too inaccessible, however you should know that usually to enter the gallery you have to ring , many people do not dare to go and stick to what can be seen outside through the windows . Here the work is fully accessible from the outside, the viewer does not have to make an effort to get to the work.
N. Desmet : What does the mirror represents for you?
JB Caron : The mirror has a unique feature which is the following observation: we are always between two worlds, our daily spatial universe and our mental universe. An inversion of traditional values also operates here, the tangible world - which is that the world of daydreams for Hinduism, for example - we move to a virtual world that is the awareness of reality. In this way my proposal is quite symbolic .
N. Desmet : By closing the gallery, is it the virtual outside that becomes real and the real inside that becomes virtual ?
J. B. Caron : Exactly! I differentiate the two spaces whose limit is the mirror, I invite people to invest the real while being symbolically in the virtual. If the interior was traversal we would be a sabotage of the idea, and in a sense it would lose its force. We can think of Robert Smithson, who uses mirrors to double reality, but for him this duplication means that we stand in front of the mirror. As it is for me, I set the audience on the other side, facing the back of the mirror, so it is a duplication that is mentally achieved, although for it to work, they must have access to an early reflection and know that it is a mirror. A work of Michelangelo Pistoletto between specifically resonates with my project: it is the Metrocubo d'infinito (The cubic meter infinity). Again the mirrors are turned inward, with the difference that they reflect themselves to infinity.
N. Desmet : What feedback has this project with your other works? You have worked hard on the issue of the upward momentum on the vertical and the means of escaping gravity and weightlessness, is this work related to this interest?
JB Caron : I like the idea that things are not perceptive at first sight, to make emerge subtle relationships between attention and perception. I'm also interested in magic, I used to work with things that do not exist, to emphasize through an effect a purely imaginary speech, but which ends up being seen as real by the spectators. This is a game that can go very far.
N. Desmet : It is not for you then a way to remove the gallery, the exhibition space?
Caron JB : No, I had not considered as such, even though I like the idea of removing the exhibition space, here it is more a question of displacement, a horizontal displacement. I like the idea of several worlds coexisting. We can therefore find that the vertical from a conceptual point of view, since it is also a way to escape gravity.