A Ship Moored to a Single Anchor
Myriam Mechita’s sculptures spread out in space and time, like passageways which the visitor only needs to enter to bring their unstable arrangement of signs and images to life. This time is akin to both an imperceptible vibration and an eternal repetition. In this sense, it is inseparable from the movement inherent to the artist’s installations: bodies suspended in space, not immobile but drawn to the floor by their weightiness; landscapes drilled on the wall or stretched on the floor; images reflected and multiplied on the sculptures’ polished surfaces; vision slowed as it comes into contact with black light; taut wires and incomplete constructions.
Yet movement is not the right word. What is at issue in these floating decors – imaginary theatres with infinite possible scripts – is the absence or quasi-absence of movement. In English, this idea is described by the word “stillness” – a notion which does not exist in French. “Still” means neither fixed nor moving. It is an in-between place, an interstice, an interruption between two movements. It is in this real space, where the markers of time and movement are dislocated, that the visitor’s imagination can unfold. S/he is faced with a fiction, and, like the fiction, with “the multiplication of speech modes and levels of meaning”¹ .
To penetrate one of these installations is to slip inside the artist’s waking dream. The architecture of this mindscape seems to want to tell us a story in its singular language. It is a fantastic tale that repeats itself – with its characters, its symbols and its articulation of events, stimulating the spectator’s attention by soliciting the memory of her/his senses. This tale suggests its author’s fascination for the sublime in the fatefulness of death. It presents her strange visions and explores her obsessions. The same rhythm is always reproduced: it drifts between two poles, reality and the imaginative realm. Myriam Mechita intensely engages our perception by multiplying mirrors, split images, palindromes and shapeless shadows. This universe is not unreal but fictional. Its surface is porous, pierced by holes, pricked by pins, to let reality seep through, anamorphically.
“This gallery had cast a kind of spell on them. (…) They had noticed one of its singular virtues and not the least; the gallery drifted in all directions, like a ship moored to a single anchor.”²
Translated by Paul Jones
Vanessa Desclaux is an art critic and curator. She is currently assistant curator of events at the Tate Modern, London.
¹ Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics, Continuum, New York, 2006
² Jean Cocteau, Les Enfants terribles (in English translation), Vintage, London, 2003