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Marielle Chabal

From Friday 1 June to Wednesday 29 August 2018


This is what Marielle Chabal seems to be saying throughout her work. Science-fiction has become our everyday life and futuristic novels –in the form of utopian, plot or catastrophist stories- are the negotiation field of our interpretation of the world. What is less common is the artist’s unbelievable ability to indulge in wishful thinking. We might say that believing is enough but this religion for non-believers has no compass, it is neither optimistic nor pessimistic, it does not claim to associate reality with truth. What it does state loud and clear is fiction’s ability to participate in the construction of our lives. It is therefore no coincidence if Marielle Chabal always starts off with fictional writing before translating her projections into the space-time of an exhibition, making indivisible the publishing of her texts, the construction of the shapes and the activity they generate through collaborations. The exhibition spaces therefore become both spaces of fiction and archive centres of a little known, gone or future society.

If we could draw a map of social fears and phobias at one given time, we might discover an implicit and incredible psycho-geography of the repressed potentialities of a world whose only desire is to be intensified. But it talks about us, always, because we live amongst ourselves. Marielle Chabal has explored a fear that is widely spread and identified but unexplainable: the fear of being in a rain of frogs. The absurd competes with prospective imagination.

In another installation, the laying out of the Queen’s spaces, the temple of Parisian house music, selected for the control and organization of excesses, is expressed through a draughtboard with bowling skittles that comes with a work by Dan Graham on the harmful effects of drugs. But a society of fear and control will always force you to reinvent yourself. Sometimes you have to date the apocalypse precisely to finally start playing, because time is flying.

Starting from a novel that deals with a rain of meteorites that destroy everything, she invents a playroom where the pool table, the pinball machine and the table football set become models for a planet where nature has taken over, making a clean break with the logics of separation between work, leisure, primary and secondary needs. Despite the apocalypse, because often in her novels the book starts when the worst has already happened, there will be psychotropic drugs and burgers. How can we distinguish, in Marielle Chabal’s work, between what is utopian and what is dystopian? Arriving after the disaster, in a society of survivors who need everything but who are also lucky to have nothing because money has disappeared and barter dominates black markets, is an invitation to reinvent the very principle of community. The most fascinating aspect of the artist is her commitment to willing to transfer this desire into real space, exploring the exhibition-shape as an engine that intensifies collective practices, inviting artists, authors, researchers and other passionate people to redo commonality. It can be unsettling to see that the means used are those of the entertainment industry or codified genres like SF or crime novel, but then the notion of special effects would need to be redefined. Because the only aim of fiction is to become – sometimes it turns out as a nightmare but it is indicative of the atomic power of desire.

Pedro Morais


The artist residency programme is organised by the CAC - la synagogue de Delme in collaboration with the Lorraine Regional Natural Park and the Commune of Lindre-Basse.