Emmanuel Lagarrigue

Éditions Dilecta
49, rue Notre-Dame de Nazareth
March 17, 2016–May 14, 2016

Emmanuel Lagarrigue, Montrer ça: le fait d’apparaître et de disparaître en même temps, d’être en activité pour montrer comment tu essaies de disparaître (To demonstrate this: appear and disappear at the same time, through your activity show how you are trying to disappear), 2014, ashes, acrylic resin, steel frame, 40 x 80".

Does obscurity allow certain things to burn more intensely, away from the grit of sight, of earthly matters? And if the flame is witnessed, is its extinguishment nigh? History is rife with instances of disappearance, willful and not. Emmanuel Lagarrigue’s exhibition, titled “Quelque chose d’invisible n’en peut plus” (Something invisible can no longer be), teases out these issues.

The artist uses the writings of the nearly forgotten avant-garde, protofeminist French writer Hélène Bessette to goad various materials toward dissolution. In Le crépuscule du matin (Dusk of the morning), 2013, two leaning oak beams, arranged to mirror a pair within the gallery’s architecture, are notched on all four sides with notation of Morse code. The force and depth of the incisions has caused some of the wood to splinter off, making the text even less legible. The series “Ida,” 2015, consists of two large copper sheets that were doused with acid to create a series of letters, laid on top of one another, that spell out some of Bessette’s words. Here, language is simultaneously visible and invisible, as it should be, as it always somehow is.

The use of parentheses in Bessette’s works, according to curator Mara Hoberman, is an act of hiding in plain sight. That spirit of (dis)appearance is wrought exquisitely in another work: a rectangular panel of black resin, cast from a mold of oak blocks, also Morse coded, but with the words of choreographer Christian Rizzo. The ash from the burned leftover chips of Le crépuscule du matin is mixed in with the resin and poured into the mold, which registers the wood grain’s flecks and rays. This creates an optical trick that makes the surface seem fathomless, as the remains from Bessette’s text corrode into Rizzo’s. Perhaps this transfiguration frees us to see and move, however blindly, within the lacunae.

— Jo-ey Tang