I have hunted butterflies in various climes and disguises: as a pretty boy in knickerbockers and sailor cap; as a lanky cosmopolitan expatriate in flannel bags and beret; as a fat hatless old man in shorts.
Vladimir Nabokov, Speak Memory, an Autobiography Revisited
Manon Bellet « Il y aurait tout cela encore »
The beating of the wings is slow. Catch it, yes, but it’s impossible to keep it. Admire the metallic powder and let it go. When it’s already far off, you think back to the gesture of capturing it, to the dance. Once again you see the colors, the rhythm that quickens before the take-off. For an instant, though, it remained immobile. An instant, how much time is that? In the time it takes to think about it, it’s already gone. There remains a blurred image, faintly made out, a mirage. The lightness of the memory is added to the subtlety of the image. It is these glimpsed fragments that Manon Bellet seizes, extracts, or conjures up.
The artist experiments. She rediscovers old techniques and uses materials that have fallen out of favor like the photographic process known as cyanotype, Polaroid film and transparencies, as well as several types of paper, thermal, carbon and tissue, which she roughly treats to the point of destroying them, to the point where they can resist no more. In doing so she reveals ghostly images and forms which, given the fragility of their composition, are already in the process of vanishing.
The show Il y aurait tout cela encore (There Would Be All that Still) offers a snapshot of the artist’s experiments to date. The title is borrowed from the last chapter of a book by François Bon, Autobiographie des objets, in which the author suggests that enumerating a list of objects from daily life is not enough and that there is still all that has not been written or named. Or, in the case of the artist’s body of work, all the images that are still hidden on blank pages. Imagining the mass of “all that” might tempt one to flee to an immaterial lightness. But in the midst of this surplus lies the pleasure of the searcher and the researcher, of him or her who tries to find.
The exhibition space is saturated with short-lived traces. You recognize them. You get closer, then move back, then closer again.
We know these images; they are familiar to us, recalling a recollection buried in memory, so far off we have forgotten it right down to its source.
Stéphanie Serra 2015 Translation: John O'Toole