La noche que lo hace visible.
Rachel Labastie and Nicolas Delprat
Rachel Labastie and Nicolas Delprat have crossed the border to work in a small abandoned village of Navarre in Spain: Égulbati. Following their footsteps, we have also crossed the border to discover the outcome of their work in the contemporary art center of Huarte. Leave and explore: this already echoes their approach and a first step toward receiving the fruit of the time they spent in Égulbati.
Before visiting the exhibition, a 18mm video introduces us to the thought and implementation of this project. We witness how the two artists took ownership of the place and occupied it. Busy bodies transporting, sanding, breaking… The gesture appears as a ritual towards/with the material and the space. This notion of ritual becomes almost ceremonial when, on a full moon night, an ephemeral oven takes the form of a bond fire at the center of the village with, around it, as there should be, people from here and there, telling stories while waiting for dawn and the unveiling of the objects that cooked all night. All around, the openings of the houses, condemned with red bricks and broken into, are highlighted by the hand of Nicolas Delprat, thanks to an iron structure covered with phosphorescent paint that catches light during the day to release it at night. And the perfect circle of the full moon gives the impression of a story that has been repeating itself since the dawn of time.
The rest of the exhibition exposes traces, what is left of this time in Égulbati. Traces of the artists’ work and traces of the village’s memory. Traces of a present that is still bright but finished and traces of a distant past that remains. From this tension stems an emotion that guides us slowly among the artwork, approaching it with the precautions of archeologists, because evidently the work of these two artists pertains to this practice. Making the past emerge and turning it into the present again. A reactivation of the loss allows to find the thread of the narration, to recapture a story.
Rachel Labastie’s sticks, simply propped against a white wall, are a call to set out again. To return, or leave again, but charged with all the memory of a place, a landscape, life in common. Clay sticks, delicately embedded with pieces of ceramics found in the village: shards, bottlenecks, broken plates. Joy and emotion when catching a glimpse of a number or a letter. Interrogation and doubt when finding a strangely shaped piece. In this village of Navarre, these sticks turn into diamond jewelry or precious scepters. Their fragile grace holds the energy of pride, of the courage of exile and of the pain of loss. They do not scream. They whisper their story and that of a people. They help setting out.
Facing them, almost at their feet, the memory of the oven from which they were born. A circle filled with burnt ceramic shards that echoes, a bit farther, Ici, il y a, là, cendre: a circle of ashes on paper, reminiscent of the moon’s presence on this famous October night.
Scattered around the traces of Igulbati, less recent works by Rachel Labastie unveil her path as an artist and foresee what will take place during this residency. Tools of clay that dig, ceramic axes stuck in the wall, wheels of reeds claiming to have traveled with tziganes: all objects that travel through ages, talk about time and are part of the history of this abandoned village.
Just as the empty houses of the village, with their incandescent windows, surround Rachel Labasite’s oven, Nicolas Delprat’s paintings also form a circle, spreading on the walls of this large room. They are the fruit of his residency at La casa Vélasquez in Madrid, where he continued what he had started in Igulbati. The light used on the houses now takes over the canvas. To the white fluorescent light of the memorial contour of a closed up opening, forced and confined, are added flows, patches of bright colors recounting the chaos of history, its disorder, its suffering. The colors are also reminiscent of the graffiti that the artist discovered in the village and that are brought back to the present on his canvases. Nicolas Delprat’s paintings show the light that remains, a persisting human presence even if all presence is gone.
Exile, travel, return, memory, attachment, loss, the obscurity of history as well as its light: all mental images that find, in this exhibition, an expression and a poetry holding future stories.
La noche que lo hace visible
Exhibition Rachel Labastie – Nicolas Delprat
March 24th to April 29th, 2018
Centro Huarte, Navarre (Spain)
Organized by Coop (Bidart, France) and Centro Huarte, Navarre (Spain)
Curator: Julie Laymond