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Passages: Marie-Hélène Parant’s installation „Le Corridor” | Balsas: aktualios ir medijų kultūros žurnalas
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    Passages: Marie-Hélène Parant’s installation „Le Corridor”

    | 2008-06-02 | 10:59

    Marie-Hélène Parant’s Le Corridor (2008) involves the architecture of body and space. Sited in the corridor of a centuries old Toulouse edifice, the piece responds to the movement of visitors’ bodies in space. There is an illusionary re-configurative visual poetic sensibility to Parant’s intervention. The body becomes a paint brush, that generates "patch waves". Using Sketch-In technology designed by Parant, this adaptive method of light transferral is particularly effective for performance events and happenings. Sketch-In responds to moving physical objects, and people. Inverting light and body motion,  (as information), Sketch-In generates refractive patches of light. Parant’s kaleidoscopic and multi-faceted performative visuals capture a point of passage, and this can be the body’s passage at a particular point in time and space.

    Le Corridor is a place of passage as well. Literally comprising empty space within which the light effects of Sketch-In fill that space with visuals, the medium is the body. But not the body you see, but the body that is in real time moving through this space. The body moves through this space on it way from, and to, somewhere else. And as indefinite place the corridor is neither an endpoint nor a point of departure. Sited in such a place Le Corridor captures a transitional and relativistic construct for what reality is or can potentially represent. Parant does this by engendering ephemeral, moving imagery, but these colour patches, or swathes splay out, and fan out, so we sense the original bodily form, but it displaces, becomes a generalized element. The imagery has its point of reference is real time, real life people who pass in front of, and evoke a response from  video sensors, This light sensitive visual information is then fed to a projector that relocates the imagery. The changing patch waves, based in local available colour, with light as a medium of transformation and inversion, are but one element in the event. The spectacle or theatre of Le Corridor is in the transfiguration of space, and this involves a dialectics of space.


    As an approach to artmaking Parant’s is more like an endless spiral or cycle of related but continually changing visual phrases  Parant’s aesthetic involves a dynamic that is site sensitive, but invokes a consideration of the visible and invisible, of inner and outer realities or dimensions. These questions are left open, never answered…  This forest of images,

    sometimes in motion, othertimes static for an instant, involves colour areas of opening and closure, that are body-related, and the sensory elaboration has an experiential and very visual meditative effect on the viewer or participant (who could be both). Light refracts from a stained glass window on the wall of this corridor. This older static form of light refraction, designed for the original building, now has this additional layer of patch wave patterns that projects over and onto it. The visual admixture is very human, involves dualities of absence and presence. The surprising interplay of plastic and spatial projection embodies Parant’s adaptive, performative and mostly mutable immaterial artform.


    L’Immortelle (1995-2001) an earlier installation piece by Parant, integrates a series of floor placed video monitors into a dried earthen environment that conjures up a sensibility that this is an ancient place, or representation thereof. We feel like visitors to this environment, as if what we see is only for the moment, even if the site seems eternal. We "read" the ever changing imagery on the screens. The elements passing on the screens range from primordial –  fire, stone, water – to corporeal  – the body, the face. This is a poetic, partly hidden, partly visible world. There is something of the spirit of Marcel Duchamp’s last work, Etant Donnes (1946-66), to Parant’s approach to the art as process. Duchamp rendered his artwork only visible through a peephole, as of that which contained the art were a body itself, and that had a woman in a Technicolor landscape displayed within. With Parant’s l’Immortelle we wonder… are we looking into the afterlife, or are these secrets from a hidden world. One of the images are evocative contiguity to the images. They all share something in common – from screen to screen. Eventually the flow and flux in the imagery begins to read as if the images themselves were water, a river of images, flowing through, disappearing.

    Temporal and ephemeral l’Immortelle constructs an archaeology of the moment, with the earth as a physical metaphorical body within which the video elements appear, as if they were continuously flowing, largely unobserved  – a river of images. The art awakens this sense of a hidden world, one we are a part of, whether we like it or not. The power of myth exists in the details of this piece. Is this a tragedy?  The details direct us to questions of mortality, and are fragments of some larger story we all share, cannot define adequately, are aware of at some point within ourselves.

    With another piece title Menacé (1997), Marie-Hélène Parant achieves an ecstatic sensuality, and this, with images that never fully reveal what exactly is there, or can be seen. One of her most significant works Les Venus (1999) involved the recreation of ancient paleolithic artforms, that recall  the Venus of Willendorf for their universal symbology. The images were created using live models covered with earth, who were then photographed. The results are edifying for they look like actual artworks from ancient times, and yet are based in reality. The scope is broad, for we gather a sense of the link between real life – the  body – in both ancient and contemporary contexts. The photo-scanned images of these very sculptural body forms. When exhibited, they were presented in a circular arrangement as if one were entering into a series of sacred spaces, or  temples of images.

    Looking at the photos, we have no sense of their specific cultural origin, though they look like they could have originated with some ancient world civilization. The bodies are kneeling, bending, splayed, stretched, contemplative or in motion. Textures are bold, shiny, earthy, and look ancient. The unifying aspect to Parant’s Venus project is that what looks generalized becomes a universal metaphor.  While these are ultimately sensual, sexual, eternal images, and look as ancient as ancient art, and as contemporary as art today, it is the viewer who brings a potential meaning to them. The filter these works pass through is that of our worldview, the paradigm of our internal learned, perceptual and genetic constructs. Venus, as an installation, is a statement.  Parant makes us aware of the way we encode, attribute meanings to render them symbolic, or hierarchic, through the act of presentation.

    What strikes one is the metaphoric, evocative potential of Marie-Helene Parant’s ongoing arts production. Her works are situational and very visual. We find some of the roots to Marie-Hélène Parant’s approach to artmaking in performance art. Though her art involves the temporal nature of space and site as a venue for art, her collaborations and solo events carry some sense of the social and natural origins of art as a cultural mimetic and universal act.


      John K. Grande

    Writer and art critic John Grande’s reviews and feature articles have been published extensively in Artforum, Vice Versa, Sculpture, Art Papers, British Journal of Photography, La revue Espace, Public Art Review, Landscape Architecture, Ceramics Monthly, Photoicon, Art On Paper, Vie des Arts and Circa¬†(Ireland).

    The author of Intertwining: Landscape, Technology, Issues, Artists¬† (Black Rose Books, 1998), Art Nature Dialogues (SUNY Press, New York, 2004), Dialogues in Diversity: Art from Marginal to Mainstream (Pari Publishing, Italy, 2007), John Grande’s Art Allsorts; Writings on Art and Artists  will be published by Go If Press in 2008.


    Marie-Hélène Parant – bio

    Marie-Hélène was born in Quebec city and lives and works in Montreal. Artist of the visual, media and interactive arts, an experimental artistic approach is dominant in her work. She has presented her work of installation and of video performance in several international venues, in Europe (Club Transmediale, VidéoFormes, Traverse vidéo), in Canada (Société des arts technologiques, ChampLibre, Festival du Nouveau cinéma, Galerie de l’Uqam, Galerie du Musée du Québec, ISEA 95), in the USA (Experimental Intermedia, Share NY and ArtSpace Galery), in Morocco (Festival Video art of Casablanca). She received prices and grants from Canada, Italy and Finland.

    Since 2004, she has been developing an interactive video device that she calls Sketch-In which is directed towards happenings and installations. It has been also designed during SHARE MTL’s evenings live performances. Marie-Helene is cordinator and founding member of SHARE MTL since May 2005, an artistic community that organizes digital evenings of art created in network and frequently via Internet with other SHARE communities in the world.

    Photos and videos archives of her art work can be viewed on the website www.marieheleneparant.com


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