Exhibition : Photographs 1980/2002
30 October - 11 December 2010
Beyond a mirror, a reflection opens up a hypothetical elsewhere. On the side of a table, three withered lotus blooms tangle their stems in a sharp-necked nase. Through bird-cages, another net, this time architectural, shows. Bags, tied to a tree, hang. A gap appears in rock faces. A man, with closed eyes, sits on the edge of an unmade bed. The photographs shown in Manuela Marques’ new solo exhibition in Anne Barrault gallery question these « contact zones », these exceptional intermediate, almost imperceptible areas. Everything is there, expecting, waiting : liminal. Taken from the environment to heighten it, suspended in time to stretch it more, not linked to an event which you do not know whether it is to come or has already happened. Everything is on the verge of balance, reserve, suspense, and it is probably not fortuitous if Manuela Marques is used to comparing this strain with the sword of Damocles. For there is indeed the breath of imminence which rises from these images, showing on their surfaces, and which should be looked for, maybe, in the depth of their atmosphere. Like that of caves, abysses, and other buried passages, the atmosphere makes use of details, transparence, dampness as well as chiaroscuro, mineral, organic substance. Moreover there is some similarity with cinema aesthetic approaches, which probably stamps Manuela Marques as such a remarkable photographer on today’s scene. A certain idea of a static shot, the one that lasts longer than usual attention and does compel you to eatch/capture what escapes your eyes. Thus she introduces the mise en abyme of reality, composing and recomposing it till this achemical porosity between within and without surfaces. Therefore you are led to move, to step into these supposedly static images. « Images are abysses » says Manuela Marques. But you do not come out of an abyss you get lost in it. And indeed you are confronted with this impossible way out. Everything, definitely everything takes you only to impasses, playing on the outside as well as on the inside. Cages, vase, bags, cave, this man who does not want to wake up yet… This series of images, the starting point of which is the photograph of the mirror builds inevitable changes with all these locked up, containing, withdrawn forms. And it is not a matter of chance. The mirror, as you know, allowed Foucault to introduce the concept of heterotopy, ever since a bottomless pit for anyone interested in the question of space, into his theory. Let me quote him briefly : « the mirror is heterotopic in the way it makes the place where I am, when I look at myself in it, both quite real, related to the surrounding space, and quite unreal since, to be seen, it has to go through this virtual point over there ». Manuela Marques makes this typically dual feature of the mirror the foundation stone of the series of her photographs, her contact zone between the space around us and over there.
 Michel Foucault, Said and written 1984 , s (conference in Architectural studies circle, 14 march, in Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité, n°5, october 1984, pp. 46-49.