Toward the invisible. Virginie Luc and her Magicians
An Italian-style format with a grey hardcover… A soft grey onto which the title of the book, Les magiciennes de la terre, is soberly printed… A large strip of Ellie Davies’s photograph Smoke and Mirrors (2010) catches the eye and immediately compels the reader to open the book.
Let’s commend here the intelligence and the delicacy of this editorial know-how! The art of enticing to go towards what is yet invisible.
This art of revealing what is invisible is precisely what Virginie Luc and the seventeen “magicians” are doing in this book. Seventeen woman artists are inviting us to open our eyes on the huge book of nature, where life is constantly being written and perpetually renewed. These very human Magicians are also contributing to some of its chapters.
Virginie Luc dedicates to each one of them a text-interview that helps understand their research, its elaboration and its outcome, just enough to comprehend the photo-journal of their creations and arouse the readers’ curiosity and their desire to go further.
For Virginie Luc, these artists are not part of the Land Art movement with its monumental, vast works, which may still be defying nature. While they do work with nature, creations such as those of Cornelia Konrads or Miya Ando are more subtle, made of more ephemeral, humble, simple materials. And even if Fujiko Nakaya uses elaborate technology to create her clouds of mist, her research lies in a poetic expression close to the place and its metamorphosis.
She is showing us that most of these artists let nature enter their studio and revive, with their art, our awareness of what is fragile, precarious and uncertain. Like Rei Naito with her installation The Emotion of Belief (2017), in which she places flowers in crystalline water among remnants of radiated bottles from Hiroshima, as to tell us that even after the disaster, hope still remains. She is showing us that these artists rekindle disquieting things, reminders of death that inevitably go with life and from which we strive to get away, like Claire Morgan with Captive (2008), in which a tawny owl crashes to the ground, or Min Jeong Seo with To Live On (2005) where roses are artificially kept alive in medical infusion bags. Virginie Luc is showing that « these magicians » question our relationship to the world and our implication in its disappearance, like Janet Laurence with Birdsong (2006) where different bird specimens are placed onto large suspended rings surrounded by a soundscape of their calls.
And as Eva Jospin’s cardboard forests take us on a journey within ourselves, Virginie Luc underlines how all these works do the same. They all try to give shape to something that is invisible.
Through her text and her choices, Virginie Luc honors Korean artist Su-Mei Tse’s words, “Ȇtre rendu à soi” (“to be given back to yourself” in French). By reviving the reader’s poetic outlook and thought, Les Magiciennes de la terre and the author invite the reader to do just that.
Virginie Luc, Les Magiciennes de la terre. L’art et la nature au féminin, published by Ulmer, 160 pages, 120 illustrations, 2017.