For this second solo show by Claire Adelfang, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac has chosen to spotlight her video work with a presentation of Les Forges, a film she made in early 2013. Her first show, Monuments, concentrated on the photographic work of this young artist and alumna of the École Nationale des Beaux Arts de Paris, but Parisians were also able to see one of her videos in the exhibition of work by finalists for the Prix Meurice.
Like her photographs, Adelfang’s video work surveys industrial vestiges, bringing to bear a gaze that seems neutral and non-judgemental. The observation and documentation of abandonment invests these vestiges with a poetic power. The absence of human figures highlights the place’s loss of function and, thus, the gradual fading of these structures’ reason for existing. The imposing nature of the ruined architectural modules and the weight of this Cyclopean architecture reflect both the past power and importance of industry in society, and the permanent threat of obsolescence hanging over every human activity and technological innovation, condemning them to vanity.
Nature is an omnipresent protagonist in these ruined landscapes, taking over space, filling the images and the sound track. Adelfang uses the term “oneiric documentary” to acknowledge the subjective aspect of this work which both reveals history and writes stories. “I try to convey the sensation that, once you have entered this apparently hostile place, its atmosphere can be almost sacred, and the light, wind and vegetation take on an enigmatic dimension.”
The video takes the form of a triptych whose titles, “La Chapelle des abîmes” (The Chapel of the Abyss), “Le chemin d’eau” (The Way of Water) and “Les champs de force de la Terre” (The Fields and Power of the Earth) were chosen after the images were shot and edited, and inspired by the writings of Julien Gracq.
Claire Adelfang graduated from the ENSBA, Paris, in 2010. Parallel to her exhibition at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, she is showing two other videos and a photograph at the Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez in Bordeaux as part of the exhibition Rêves de Venise.