Sculpture in an expanded form
Written by Nina Wöhlk




The stringent edges of a dusty and dark trapezoid, are the first elements, which greets the visitor at Valérie Collart latest exhibition The Beauty and The Uncanny.

As a horisontal monolith, Black Hole hovers above the marbled floor, casting out a diffuse shadow. Around it lies black tubes with nails perforating the surfaces from the inside out, resembling furry caterpillars, and all the varying shapes are playing roles of uncanny moving elements, in the animated videos in the show. Also the exhibition consists of more classical sculptures either on pillars or individually framed by little shelves, as well as a photograph and a photogravure. The same elements in changing mediums, and in the space between the variations it is sensed that Collart is working with the sculpture, as form as well as concept.

Observing the span between the objects and the images, the works at times seem far from each other, and at times, as with Photogenic object 1 and 2, Ruin V and the animations, you sense a space more closely related, where the intimacy in between becomes visible.

As part of Collart ́s research, she photographs her work during the proces of making, in order to register the stages in where the sculpture alters and materialises. Manifesting that, there is a strong emphasis on materiality, both seen when an object reshapes and morphs into another medium, and materiality as means in the creation of illusions where elements are “fake”, in the sense of having an immediate appearance of being of another matter than what they are.

In every sense of the word her works are “characters”; individuals embodying uncanny shapes inhabiting filmic scenes. The animations are in particular deceptive and simultaneously revealing Collart ́s vast understanding of sculpture. Being another tactility than the photogravures and the classical sculptures, the animations are shown on smooth glossy screens, which aids in the understanding of the whole screen being part of the piece, in order to perceive the video ́s sculptural dimension.

In terms of the way we look at things, avantgarde artists such as Man Ray and Constantin Brancusi had a similar extended understanding, when they in the early 20th century photographed sculptures, mathematical models, and everyday objects. They wanted to transfer the perception of sculpture to other mediums, and close the gap between sculpture, image and the surrounding space. As Collart the concern was how to work with sculpture within photography, merging the seemingly two-dimensional with a third dimension.

The two-dimensionality is a rhetorical division, as everything that has a physical form exists in three dimensions. Sculpture is essentially a negative or positive relief in a material, and the artists who use photography (or graphic or painting for that matter) with a sculptural approach, operate on the scale of the most minute relief conceivable. In this light it becomes a matter of approach, in which Collart’s work links the minimal three-dimensionality with the more tangible voluminous ones.

The orientation towards a different approach to sculpture and materiality, are something which makes Collart’s work simultaneously simpel and comprehensive to categorise, and where the interplay between the two constantly disturbs and questions if, what you are perceiving ́s innate core are image or object, or wherein the space between.

As the intrinsic relation between scale, volume, and medium are enhanced by the recurring motives, they perform the role of being strings connecting the nodes of Collart ́s diverse praxis.