Hélène Fauquet. Phenomena

25 Apr 2024 – 25 May 2024

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

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England, United Kingdom

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Clustered together on the tables are groupings of picture frames, many of them filled with images of bubbles. Some of them are cloudy and blurred at the edges, watery blobs that seem to have just recently split, having percolated in the warm brew of a primordial pool. Bubbles lend themselves to a utopian and fairytale sensibility. Seen from the outside they are kaleidoscopic, from within, they suggest a potential for entrapment. Outside of descriptions of the physical kind they have an obvious psycho-social connotation, one that could imply the fragile limits of a worldview or a kind of hubris with its demise pre-programmed into it.

Frames are visually hungry like holes or pupils, their variously seductive personalities anticipate their matching doubles. In this case bubbles of different varieties fill the object void, accompanied at times by other images – molluscs, insects, humans and other forms. The sum of this collection suggests the monomania of an amateur scientist taking their work home with them, an accumulated staccato of forms, like that of Wilson Alwyn Bentley’s amassed snowflakes and smiles; each one precious and unique. In spite of the suggestion of loving hoarders thrown up by such arrangements, it’s the sense of economy that makes them feel psychedelic.

The title of this show “Phenomena’’ refers to the 1985 Dario Argento film of the same name. It centres around the story of Jennifer who is able to telepathically communicate with insects, which assist her in pursuit of a serial killer. Fauquet’s use of bubbles seems to have no obvious symbolic equivalent in the film, which doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Giallo films - a genre of Italian crime thrillers- often work with the significance and mystery of minute details, priming us for the film’s later deductions and psychological payoffs. The implication in this work is a return to images, or ‘screen memories’ with the hope that they might reveal more of their significance, or just as an open-ended exercise, a cyclic re-membering minus the guardrails of a cinematic plot - a process of returning to more of the same type of signs, with the prospect of different results.

The first iteration of Fauquet’s work was shown in Kunsthaus Glarus amidst a Swiss landscape that closely resembles the film’s. Her work was initially presented there in a windowless room. The current presentation consists of 4 tables upon which sit constellations of tabletop picture frames. They are titled: Mechanica, life-world, Flash of the Blade, Delicate and sensitive. They might be memories, chapters, omens, songs, it’s not clear. “Phenomena’’ passes through the architectures of taxonomic thinking, if only to point out their categorical fragility and transience. They hold, but might just pop.

Seen through a giallo lens the bubbles could signify any number of things. The percolations of a repressed memory, a primal scene, the flashbacks of a victim and/or perpetrator. Fauquet is at liberty to performatively inhabit the overwrought psychoanalytic themes and time-bound linearity of the film, whilst toying with its construction. More than any of the thematics it’s the vivid strangeness and mystery of images that is the continuous thread – a re-wierding of an entrenched way of seeing. Bubbles are the softest way to do this, unlike mirrors they don’t fracture or fragment. While there is an emergent aesthetic, it is not condensed in any singular image, but in the patterns of staggered difference and emergent funkiness of the whole. Seen together these frame-picture combinations add up to a restless sense of creativity.

Fauquet describes this as a process in which the images work themselves on her as much as she works with them. Fauquet’s approach to arranging images is partly associative. Association has a history as a mode of flight that is valorised for its poetic labours, one that might even redeem the ‘insane’ through excess. Both in criminology and in psychiatry it has also been used as a barometer through which so-called deviancy was to be measured. Fauquet’s constellations play on the contextual ambiguity of her chosen images, and our capacity, or not, to read them coherently according to a certain given frame – an act of looking that might also imply seeking out the intent of the artist as a potential suspect and by association of their aesthetic and moral fitness. In the process we catch our reflection. Meanwhile, Fauquet’s images work on the brain like the ‘cuckoo spit’ of a true bug.

Text by: Ryan Siegan-Smith

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Hélène Fauquet


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