Villeurbanne

View of Bojan Šarčević, 2012. From left: She, 2010; Presence at Night, 2010; He, 2011.

View of Bojan Šarčević, 2012. From left: She, 2010; Presence at Night, 2010; He, 2011.

Bojan Šarčević

Institut d’Art Contemporain

View of Bojan Šarčević, 2012. From left: She, 2010; Presence at Night, 2010; He, 2011.

Bojan Šarčević’s exhibition “L’ellipse d’ellipse” included twenty-six works retracing his path since 1999, demonstrating the breadth and consistency of his multifarious explorations. Sculpture, collage, construction, installation, and film are among the specific means by which he establishes and comprehends form, its connection with materials, the memories it conveys and situations it evokes, and finally the relationship it maintains with space.

Works from the past few years greeted the visitor in the first room, where She, 2010, and He, 2011, a pair of large stelae sculpted in onyx, polished on one side and left rough on the other, pursued their dialogue with each other and with Presence at Night, 2010, a delicate tree branch coming out of the wall, to which, one saw as one approached, two long blond hairs are attached. Each of these three sculptures is enigmatic and silent in its own way: The first two are as monumental as the third is discreet, even if the bands of the stone echo the ramifications of the branch. While She and He represent sculpture as monolithic, Presence at Night is more akin to drawing in space. Yet the first two works also possess an undeniable graphic dimension, while the last defines virtual volume in space—mineral, in the first case, animal and vegetable, in the second. Ultimately, these are just different configurations of matter, and in the end they evoke human presence by way of proportion and even mythology (Daphne transformed into a laurel, for instance). The tensions thus brought to light by this first room animate the entire exhibition, whether the presence/absence of the body suggested by clothes (Favourite Clothes Worn While She or He Worked, 2000), interiors (the collages of 1954 C, D, G, and H, 2004), or objects. This tension was also played out in the preciousness and roughness of the materials and forms, as in the brass and wire Untitled, 2007, and the raw planks of Leftovers, 2002/2012; and in the architectural and mental space constructed via the fragmentary evocation of the icons of modernist architecture.

But it is with his films that Šarčević best succeeds in keeping these differences in balance. Here, two series of projections, “Only After Dark,” 2007, and “The Breath-Taker is the Breath-Giver,” 2009, were presented in particularly effective setups: For each projection, Šarčević has constructed a pavilion, made of plaster and Plexiglas, respectively, that suggests Constructivist sculpture as much as it does the architecture of Mies van der Rohe. Everything is contained within it—the screen, the support for the 16-mm projector, a place for viewers, the time of the experience. The short films show arrangements of various materials, from tissue paper to modeling clay, that take on geometric or organic forms. These become strange actors in a silent drama, animated into stunning ballets through the camera’s movements. At the end of this trajectory, World’s Corner, 1999/2012, was striking in its apparent simplicity: In a completely empty and perfectly immaculate exhibition space, grafted to a corner, is a dilapidated room—misshapen plinths, dirty, buckling linoleum, chipped paintings on a cracked wall. What is it that’s being revealed here? The past of the exhibition space, which the neutrality of the white cube was supposed to have effaced, or what the place might become?

Guitemie Maldonado

Translated from French by Jeanine Herman.