by Olivier RIGNAULT
about Blue Lake, Room 12, 2007 and Blackhole, 2008
In Là, demeure. Vézelay : Association Fondation Zervos, 2012
In its setting and composition, which make use of a certain triteness, Blue Lake, Room 12 evokes the “souvenir photo,” like the ones stored in a shoe box among the family files. Vacations in the mountains: a cramped hotel room inundated with wainscoting, furniture, mirrors, and flowers on the curtains. Contrasting this outdated setting, there stands a ghostly character whose pose recalls the stiff portraits of tutelary family figures that one might find hanging in the picture gallery of a mansion. This “genealogical” reference is probably in keeping with the piece’s autobiographical source, which Pascal bircher frequently draws upon in his work. Thus for Remake (2008), he used cinematic techniques (lighting, logistics) to photograph his place of birth, the space of a now-vanished clinic that has since become the yard of a small house. The creation of Blue Lake, Room 12 followed the fortuitous discovery of documents proving that room 12 of the Lac bleu pension, in the swiss alps, was the last place his father was seen alive before disappearing. Here the fixity of the scene does not depend on bircher’s strict photographic process, because this person was already frozen at the moment the picture was taken, posed there like a statue awaiting affection. Can we still speak of self-portrait when the body and identity of the artist shrink from our view and disappear entirely in the outline of a blue-screen suit? For here, contrary to the common use of blue screening in video production, it is not the background that is replaced but the individual. People appear, move about, disappear, while the hotel room seems to remain static. Thus, because the person is reduced to a form in this space, we find ourselves in the presence of the sculptural expression of an absence made visible, an aid to our mental projections, which alone can give him a story. And in an anachronistic combinatorial analysis in which past, present, and permanence fuse together, the reliefs of this body sink into the image, and the figure of the absent person appears at once departed and yet to come.
“Where now? when now? who now? […]” the first words of samuel beckett’s The Unnamable (1) might have been the source for Blue Lake, Room 12. The novel focuses on the movement of the consciousness being-in-the-world in the nothingness of its own existence. in order to create Blackhole, Pascal bircher chose to extract the image formed by the original manuscript’s final period by digitizing it. Projected on the bare floor of the exhibition, the ink of this period becomes an engulfing emptiness, a veritable black hole reuniting the beginning and end of our being/the universe in a single darkness. “[…] you must go on, perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be i, it will be the silence, where i am, i don’t know, i’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, i cannot go on, i will go on.”
1. samuel beckett. L’Innommable. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1953.
Translated from French by Brandon Hopkins