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Translated by Anna Knight

Marjolaine Turpin – Holding On by a Thread

by Mathilde Villeneuve

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From our hands that fossick… and barely pick anything up. She rolls a clay ball between her fingers, applying pressure between index and thumb to mould a petal, repeating the gesture hundreds of times, before pouring all of it onto the floor of the exhibition. Promising these minute and ridiculous forms (in the hollows of which she lodges her fingerprint) to soon return to their state as dust, under the visitors’ footsteps.

Marjolaine Turpin produces and exhibits without controlling. Her action is more akin to depositing. The tiny wings of dragonflies whose quirk is that of being formed by successive folds might be a metaphor for her artistic production. She scatters. Dried flowers on the windowsill, which have never stopped blooming in her apartment after the loss of a loved one. Like a way of pursuing the relationship through an intermediary. Because there is not just life and death. There are modes of existence to be invented, as Vinciane Despret1 would say. Then to give oneself over to the wind or another’s breathing, to conclude gently.  

Deployed on the wall, an incomplete embroidery presents its flipside and thus its “hole-punched” process of production: the woollen thread is not fixed to the fabric; the lines circulate by way of free loops within the work. For as long as they hold together, they form colourful abstract shapes that recall either condensation trails or a forest (owing to their mosaic of greens), or Henri Michaux’s dessins mescaliniens [Mescalinian Drawings], or the lignes d’Erre that retrace the movements of the autistic children who accompanied Fernand Deligny in the Cévennes. These trembling lines are able to better resist their imminent decomposition when, after many layers, they construct solid masses.

For the series of drawings Abords, a few natural elements – air and heat – suffice to foster a form: once reheated, the ink contained in the thermal paper rises to the surface to form an abstract stain, with a cosmic appearance. It is a chemical process then, more than it is the result of a controlled action.

When the artist decided instead to perform a fastidious action, with a clearly defined intention, it was to push matter to the limits of its function. She smoothes over with filler, doubling up the wall of the exhibition in an almost invisible manner. The material, usually designed to be applied as an undercoat to host another layer, recovers its credentials. The white square against a white background, matt or glossy in places (depending on the artificial or natural light illuminating it) reveals its asperities and the layers of the action that shaped it. 

Not only does Marjolaine Turpin’s work retreat, but she deliberately chooses a discreet and non-authoritarian presence. Not out of politeness or self-sacrifice, but through a desire to be present without influencing proceedings. On closer examination, from inside these works a certain tension emerges: their seeming delicacy actually stems from tiny aggressive acts (traversing cloth with a needle, taking paper to the limits of incandescence, sanding).

The contingency of things is not featured, it is intrinsic to the constitution of the works; it is their physicality that threatens to collapse and shies away from the spectator’s gaze.

It is without surprise that we learn that in 2015 she had filmed the crack in a bunker in which a new ecosystem had formed, made up of agglomerated shells. Nor was it an accident that she had set her sights on this military architecture, a block of concrete for retreat and defence, which while providing shelter also forms a border, in which she had chosen to explore the rift, the crack, the place where life had reclaimed its stake. The same year, she reproduced other hollows in the landscape in carbon on the floor, allowing them to be stepped all over by the spectators and causing their progressive erasure. 

The balance of the artwork is fragile. It is funambulist, like the one that Jean Genet dedicated a book to, and whose excerpts are intertwined with the critical analysis that Georges Didi-Huberman develops on the subject of the artist’s modes of sovereignty in Sur le fil2 [On the Thread]. Under the pressure of bodies, space splits or folds; it is whispered therein that we must invent forms of relinquishment.

Born in 1991 in Metz, Marjolaine Turpin lives and works in Clermont-Ferrand. After her DNSEP degree obtained at the ESACM (École Supérieure d’Art de Clermont Métropole) in 2015, she participated in various collective exhibitions in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region (Horizon (2016), Magasin, centre d’art contemporain, Grenoble, 2016; Les Ateliers, L’attrape-couleurs, 14th Biennale de Lyon, 2017, etc.). She held a solo exhibition, ajour, in 2017 at the Bikini exhibition space, Lyon.


Espace d'art contemporain Les Roches, Le Chambon-sur-Lignon

22 October - 15 December 2018


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