© PRINTEMPS DE SEPTEMBRE
PHOTO: DAMIEN ASPE
Installation – production
Adjacent to the Salle des Pèlerins (the “Pilgrims Room”) the Hôtel-Dieu's chapel appears as a small baroque chapel devoid of abundant gold stucco decorating. It is a simple room that does not follow the classic cross-shaped layout. From the main entrance to the altar lies quite a large slabbed space. It is on this mineral expanse that Laurent Mareschal has laid out his work. The viewers cannot see it as soon as they enter the space. They are not used to finding a work of art at their feet. And the altar, the architecture, the panelling, the decorations and the old paintings that hang on the walls spontaneously catch their eye. But the perfumed air could strike or just intrigue them. Upon discovering the coloured shape spread out on the floor it is easy to understand that these scents are coming from it. This ample oval shape made up of concentric circles that spread out from a dark core is made from pigments that are in fact spices.
The idea of a real and mythically familiar elsewhere supersedes the supernatural elsewhere that stems from the chapel itself: these spices are the taste of Mediterranean cooking. Thus the East and its fragrances burst into the Hôtel-Dieu with these spices that travelled the roads that ran between India and Europe; the Silk Road and the roads of precious and rare things, so warmly coloured and with such healing and flavoursome virtues. As economical wealth and a completely aesthetic object (it affects three senses: smell, sight and taste) spices are the taste of the other and of the faraway, a world to be conquered. Like most of Laurent Mareschal's work this installation at the Hôtel-Dieu carries political meanings beneath its airs of a sumptuous abstract painting. Is it not from this searched-after matter that the West has, through colonialism, commerce and wealth, made the mark of its power and domination?
Laurent Mareschal has been active on the international scene since he left the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris in 2002 and presents installations as well as films and performances. The question of conflict is central to all of his work. He was bornin 1975 in Dijon and he lives and works in Paris.