“With the collapse of the market economy, we begin to see the monuments of the bourgeoisie as ruins before they have even crumbled.” –Walter Benjamin
Following Bertrand Lavier and Anri Sala, Belgian artist Edith Dekyndt will take over the Passage display cases of the Bourse de Commerce. Closely linked to commercialization and colonization, the notion of the vitrine arose with industrialization and the first world’s fairs. It was based on this fact and on the imposing, structural presence of the panoramic canvas in the Rotunda that Edith Dekyndt has constructed her project, which reveals her deep-seated interest in things using the concepts of still life, tableaux vivants, and active objects. The artist is interested in images “as a phenomenon of appearance and resurgence in motion”, as she describes it. Edith Dekyndt uses these subjects to comment on the appearance of the artwork and its status, ultimately to address an ambiguity, a suspension between two states: that of the object and that of the artwork, which she explores to its utmost limits.
The non finito, or unfinished, is a key component of Edith Dekyndt’s work; her particularly open-ended creative process focuses on the notion of process and exploring ideas and experiences. Her study of movement and of the transformation of elements describes the ineffable degrees and variations in atmospheric color, light, and perspective. For the vitrines at the Bourse de Commerce, Edith Dekyndt has composed loose arrangements of domestic objects (broken, fallen, collected, recovered, posed, covered, repaired, immersed, hung, suspended, floating, or otherwise) that recall the tradition of the theatre of objects, among other things. These arrangements are interspersed with three videos that also address the “fascinating existence of things”.
These “scenes”, at once silent and alive, immobile and energetic, in which time is suspended, disconcert us in the same way that the artist was moved when she discovered Vermeer’s paintings in her twenties. This “molecular” painting adopts an almost organic approach to living things, and the extreme precision of the elements (light, texture, objects) has greatly nourished her artistic process. These works lead viewers to contemplate their enhanced ability to look directly at a unique physical and mental experience that encompasses the object per se and the place of its presentation.
Inspired by Bruno Latour’s “actants”, Edith Dekyndt defines her compositions and her objects as “patient”, because all these objects that she activates are waiting to be found, repaired, and transformed by chemical, physical, meteorological, and atmospheric factors. Edith Dekyndt’s work is formed by this intermingling of doing and seeing. As a starting point for this vitrine project, Edith Dekyndt decided to use her video that has recently become emblematic and viral, Ombre indigène (2014), in which we see a flag made of cut black hair that was planted on top of Diamond Rock on Martinique. It was here that, on the night of 8–9 April 1830, a merchant ship smuggling some one hundred African captives ran aground before being totally destroyed. Filmed next to the tomb of Martinican philosopher Édouard Glissant, this video is an homage to the person who formulated the concept of “tout monde” and “creolization”. It is the polysemic nature of this piece, and of Edith Dekyndt’s work in general, that grabs our attention. In creating this work, Edith Dekyndt has composed a tableau moving at a slow, languid, meditative, and hypnotic pace depicting something that, years later and in another context, would become a central gesture of a contemporary resistance movement.