The Camp of the Golden Sheet

By Jean-Michel Hirt

You who enter into Evi Keller’s work, at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, renounce the boundaries of your gaze. This visual artist, whose work recycles plastic matter issued from the depths of the earth under the original shape of oil, invites you to rekindle your roots with your humanity, thanks to the light that surges forth from what she reveals, and that casts its glow into the infinite. So, yes, enter into this perpetually moving Matière-Lumière that whirls in the immense drapery of the Grange aux Abeilles, this golden and tarred sheet that has been woven and scraped until it has become the skin of the ages it constitutes, from the night of Lascaux unto the sea grottos of sunken cities. Stop, take the time you don’t have, forget for a moment the rumor of the hive created by the world’s devastation and civilized wars. Give yourself a glimpse into omniscience as the artist shows you what is under the cards, plunging you into the cosmic interior of the ruined exterior world in which we live.

What is striking when you stop looking at this visual, but also auditory accomplishment — a gong ceaselessly scans, by its varying intensity, the variations of the projected light — is that it conjures in your mind paintings by Georges de La Tour, paintings from the 17th century, when no one doubted the durability of the souls manifested in bodies, as instantiated by the often-painted character of Mary Magdalene. I remember that his choosing to place a source of light, lamp or candle, at the center of his paintings irrigated the flesh, and vastly augmented the space.

Shadows and lights became the principal subjects and heightened the religious themes caught by the solar light that they contained, but that only the painter could free. Here, the intertwining of matters and lights do not evoke characters but rather the spirits of those who oversaw their composition. They are so highly anticipated that they rush to us from the depths of time.

The temporality set up by Evi Keller defies clocks and returns anonymity to the passers-by of myths. An endless procession that tests everyone’s magic spell, whether they appear as a fabulous animal, a hooded monk, a pensive genie, or a fairy whose hair is braided with ebony, everyone contemplates here the vision that is looking at them.
There is a therapeutic dimension to this installation; the visual power that seizes the “watcher” facing it not only disenchants him/her from the oppressive news cycle, but transports him/her into strange inner worlds, close to the soul’s eyes. These intimate lands resonate with our psychic and spiritual reality, too ignored, dreaded, or eclipsed by numerous entertainments that divert us from ourselves. But this transportation takes place without any violence, it is a soft wave that soothes the soul, envelops the gaze, and sets it in a place where it expresses its gratitude. (…)