« THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH », by Aude Launay
No one can be expected to do the impossible. No one? Well, maybe. Unless their name is Morgane Tschiember. For this child of Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra et al., the world is simply a playground big enough to keep her busy for a few years.
We have already seen her go sculpturally over the top in Parallèles, a road 38 metres long presented in the exhibition Zones Arides at the Lieu Unique in Nantes in late 2006 and during the Loire estuary biennial in summer 2007, an incredible assault by brushstroke on an imported, painted desert; or her Iron Maidens, monumental sheets of aluminium coming out from the wall in sumptuous coloured volutes to conquer the exhibition space. But to think of the artist only in these terms would be to miss out on a great deal. It would, for example, be to ignore her desire to conquer space in the purest sense, expressed quite simply as the project of “releasing in space the skull of a human being transported for that purpose in a spaceship during an expedition”. It would be to forget that the works which can be explored and entered on the ground may also be designed to be seen from the sky, like her project for a roundabout spreading like a wave to the edges of the city, in lines that blithely cross roads and parks and crawl over the facades and roofs of the surrounding buildings. A nice excuse, this, for crisscrossing the cityscape with strips of reflective material.
Tschiember’s works thus attempt to include us in them, by slightly exceeding our human condition, and scale. Her Blasons (2002), placed on some ninety double-sided hoardings drew the gaze and touched us with their fleshy curves while, by their distance and height, keeping us at something of a distance.
Caught up in coloured space like insects in headlights, here we are now facing the Wrapboards (2008), at the heart of pictoriality. Sensually overpowered by the coloured glow emanating from this board that looks us up and down. A board? I would hardly dare call it that, even if the word is part of its name. The wooden board awaits us in its plastic wrapping, ready for various, as yet unknown uses. Covered with electrostatic film which tells us just about everything, it rises up as if self-evident, a false readymade because a composite fabrication, as Pop and appetising as a candy whose alluringly glossy wrapper we hesitate to peel away.
Candies also come to mind when describing Tschiember’s Pop Ups, those petites sculptures which pop up adorned with paint fired in the kiln, their forms bulging like fantasy cakes, their shimmering appearance concealing what is one of this artist’s fundamental questions: “Is a wall, a volume or a plane?” The fact is, we are never quite sure where to place her work, as painting, or perhaps sculpture? Her treatment of colour as a medium is constantly troubling our judgement of it, and the ambiguity certainly isn’t dispelled by her videos (Etre-là, 2007), or slide shows (Matière et Mémoire, 2006), let alone the Iron Maidens.
Mirror-like brilliance: everything is so smooth, so perfectly curved, pink and shimmering. Everything seems to be according to plan. The Home Run (2008) pays out its curve to perfection in a back-and-forth from the wall that opacifies its origin. A cosmetic excrescence of the conceptual flatness of the white cube, the Pop Up, considered in terms of its most general definition – which could apply to Home Run – takes over the wall with generative possibilities that seemed to have been forgotten. A seemingly sage matrix, it takes on a magical quality when it blooms with all kinds of exuberantly colourful forms. But beyond this spreading of a space that is usually contained within walls, kept away from our gaze, compressed and invisible, as if corseted by the stone and plaster, the coating and the cement, there lies another reality, that of a colour from the past or in the future, covered over and to be uncovered. This is what is revealed by the Pop Ins, these as yet unmade pieces by Morgane Tschiember in which star-shaped incisions are made into fresh new picture walls, letting out their “sap”, a colourful effusion of layered, candy-like icing, like time held between two layers of space. The colour is the link, the immateriality uniting two materials; it is the pink, flecked cement inserted and overflowing between the blocks of Running Bond, a series of walls that the artist builds here and there around the world, covering gallery windows and booths in fairs, the better to reveal their artificiality. Close in some ways to the work of Michael Asher, Tschiember plays on the nature of the wall, amplifying its internal links, telling us more about this interstice as an opening, or even as a possible join, than as a separator. A homage to the mortar that provides solidity through adherence, the Running Bond perfectly symbolises the work of Morgane Tschiember as an adhesion to the real, a matching of its most obvious physicality. And it leaves us with our backs to the wall.