Marcelline Delbecq. Wonder, 2009. Digital pigment print on archival paper, 27 x 39 cm.
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Marcelline Delbecq and Béatrice Gross —

From Silence plateau
to Silence trompeur

Words from artist Marcelline Delbecq with curator Béatrice Gross on her move away from the exhibition format, her relationship to writing and photography.

------------------ (EXCERPT) ------------------ to read more buy the book: Shop                    Translated by Ana Iwataki

Béatrice Gross : Let’s go back to “Silence Trompeur” (“Deceptive Silence”), your last exhibition. You claim it as such (you had to announce it, maybe fight against a silence that was a bit too deceptive?), clearing a new path for yourself – or rather go deeper into a bypath that has been yours for a long time – towards an oeuvre both more vibrant and more dematerialized (relatively speaking). You are not abandoning creation, on the contrary; and your writing and photography (yours? that of others?) continues to find form here in an enduring manner within publications, elsewhere in a more ephemeral manner in events…You are thus convinced that the format (aesthetic, practical, economic, political) of display that is the exhibition doesn’t suit you or doesn’t suit you anymore? Is it a general and definitive rejection?
Marcelline Delbecq : Indeed the exhibition format no longer suits me, at least that’s what I intimately think, despite attempts by others to dissuade me of this. There are several reasons behind my desire to no longer do exhibitions. I think the most fundamental is that of not stabilizing things, not freezing them, because even if an exhibition is never exactly perennial, it has a tendency to immobilize works and I am more in search of forms of life, of fleetingness, of exchanges, not a static face-to-face between the spectator and the work. I need what I convoke and provoke to bring about a form of movement – be it of thought or of the body, the gaze, hearing – that things move even if, of course, we always ask the viewer to be static at a given moment in the exchange, whether that be in an exhibition or a performance, during a projection or a reading.

I’ve also grown weary of the exhibition format as a viewer. To move away from it is a way of making me want to come back to it, still as a viewer. Incidentally, it’s funny because the director of an art center just asked me to write a text for an exhibition for the start of the season, a text that will be written without seeing the works or the exhibition. I also translated a series of texts on four exhibitions organized by an American curator. So whether I want it or not, the exhibition continues to ensnare me in its web, but at present in an out of sync, parallel manner.

Writing about artworks without having seen them? For a conventional critic, it’s probably the worst way to approach a work or an exhibition! However, more seriously, I actually wanted to ask you about your relationship to critical discourse – in general and in your own practice. Is there a difference in nature or degree between your autonomous pieces of writing, often sprinkled with references to other works or artists, and your texts more openly and directly dedicated to one work or one artist? Do you see in this an essential continuity or is there a clear distinction in status?
That’s a really interesting question. To be honest, I don’t even pose myself the question of a possibly critical writing, but rather writing that approaches artworks as a literary field to be explored. Since 2009, I have collaborated irregularly with the film magazine Trafic. Each time they ask me for a text, Raymond Bellour and Patrice Rollet (who direct it) tell me: “Above all, Marcelline, don’t feel obliged to write like a critic. Your pen is of a different sort, let it act as it will.” It’s this freedom that makes writing wonderful, since no one forces me to formulate a critical discourse when I speak of an artwork, whether it be a photograph, a film, and installation, etc…I approach it in my own manner, often beginning with a description and bringing it into a time-space that is not its own. Without trying to articulate any kind of truth as far as it’s concerned for all that. It’s a matter of essential continuity, although the texts could end up being very different in kind. The initial work is always the same.

Given this decision to no longer produce exhibitions and photographic prints, what is your position regarding your existing works and objects?