Virginie Yassef: La seconde est partie la première

Virginie Yassef (born 1970 in Grasse) makes videos, photographs and sculptures that seem to draw on the real world. However, when seen by this artist, everyday actions and simple situations take on a new dimension. In installations that regularly encourage visitor participation, she is presenting a set of works that combine reality and science fiction while exploring the systems of production of art, design and industry.

In the mezzanine space the artist reinterprets the work entitled Alloy. In this installation, a video accompanied by a strange, otherworldly soundtrack shows a child playing with magnetic elements and assembling them in a random manner, thus creating precariously balanced edifices. One of the elements from this strange building kit appears abruptly in the exhibition space, like a hypertrophied brain. Yassef plays on scale and presents a sculpture that it is impossible to apprehend at first glance. Is it a rock, a meteorite or a spaceship? This unidentifiable object partakes of an oneiric narrative that is grounded in a remote reality. Using elements from such diverse worlds as literature, cinema and the daily press, the artist manages to create enigmatic, anachronistic situations that transport us into the world and mysteries of childhood.

An elephant in the foyer space constitutes the heart of the installation. Conceived specially for the exhibition, this work explores the ambiguous relations between sculpture and architecture, between high art and popular art. This structure, which seems to have come out of a theatre set, evokes the emblematic figure of the Trojan horse. Sounds (created by Giancarlo Vulcano) coming out of the animal’s entrails suggest the possible presence of a hidden workshop.

Conceived as both an autonomous artwork and a habitable space, the work is presented within a larger installation constituted by chairs reproducing the Crate Chair that the Dutch designer, architect and cabinetmaker Gerrit Rietveld designed in 1934. Conceived so that it could be delivered in kit form and then easily assembled by the buyer, for Rietveld this model symbolised the shifting of mass production back to the artisanal phase. Yassef appropriates this process by constructing the chair using the same materials (pine planks and brass screws) and following the same instructions as for the original. However, the artist does more than simply reappropriate the object, because she reintroduces it into the artistic field and accentuates its status as prototype and artwork. Based on dialogue, Yassef’s exhibition set-up is further enriched by collaborations with the artists Julien Bismuth, Rita McBride and Camila Oliveira Fairclough.

Exhibition curator: Fabienne Fulchéri