Art Criticism

Virginie Yassef: La seconde est partie la première

Virginie Yassef: Alloy (2008), in La seconde est partie la première (Jeu de Paume, 2008).
Exhibition review published in Flash Art (Milan), no. 262, October 2008, p. 139.

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La seconde est partie la première (‘the second departed first’) is the title of French artist Virginie Yassef’s show at Jeu de Paume. Like the global title, which was extracted from a newspaper and which lost its original meaning and gained some mystery in the transmutation, the different pieces on display seem to belong to different worlds that are elusively interconnected in the exhibition space.

In the video projection Alloy (2007-08), a child, like a despot, plays with geometrical and magnetized forms that he moves and assembles in many configurations, while a voice-over relates the galactic misadventure of two cosmonauts. Along with the accidental collapses or intended dispersions of the child’s constructions, the astronauts experience sudden changes in space and time that lead them to death. In the projection room, a geometrical module has been enlarged to a monstrous size, so as to half-obstruct the viewers’ gaze.

Towards the back, two yellow futurist windows (Airedificio, 2007) open onto another room inhabited by a large wooden elephant surrounded by handmade Crate chairs, after designer Gerrit Rietveld’s model: Pour le réveiller, il suffit d’un souffle (‘it only take a breath to wake him up’, 2008). As the viewers sit on the crate reproductions, the elephant, like a Trojan horse, lets out mysterious sounds through its imperfect joints and suggests something clandestine hidden inside.

Finally, an IKEA bookcase (Billy Montana, 2004), is stacked entirely with shelves, one color per shelf that the artist painted herself. Contrary to the handmade chairs, useless as a piece of furniture, the bookcase becomes somehow a unique design item.

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