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Close Up

Virginie Barré draws her inspiration from the cultural fields of cinema, literature and comics, among others. In this exhibition, the artist presents new installations and a series of drawings recalling episodes or protagonists that marked the history of the moving image, in traditional cinema as well as in cartoons. The title Close Up refers to a type of camera shooting that gets close to a character or an object and restricts thus the field of vision, excluding contextual elements.


We could say that Barré adopts the same “close up” perspective in her work, as this exhibition confirms. The viewer experiences indeed the unusual sensation to burst without authorization into a shooting or a show stage and finds characters that look as if they were misplaced and full of doubts about their own condition and role. Her installations with dummies of human figures, as well as her drawings that recall the aesthetics of the storyboards or the clear line of some comics or cartoons, present little fictions or rather “infra-narrations” which only unveil fragments of stories.


The situations imagined by Barré operate as the indexes or the beginnings of an upcoming event: they introduce incomplete elements of information – a character, an outfit, a behavior or a state of mind – that lead the spectator to construct his own narrative. The protagonists of Barré’s world are dreamy adults or children, “normal” people dressed up as heroes, and vice versa. These figures resist to identification; however, precisely because of this lack of characterization, they open a familiar dimension composed by ordinary individuals we daily bump into or we identify ourselves with. In the exhibition, we find a female dummy dressed up as an astronaut, lying on the floor as if she were lost in her dream or anesthetized, maybe to bear a large space trip. The character seems to come out from some kind of vintage, timeless, science fiction movie. From an apparently insignificant scene such as a sleeping woman, we draw up a multiplicity of hypotheses of narration, between the oniric, the unseemly and the disturbing.


Several pieces on show refer to the creative process. The puppet of a child, wearing an old Mickey Mouse costume, is sitting in a pool of black ink that seems to indicate his origin, somewhere between the imagination of his artistic “father” and the point of a drawing pen. Perhaps this child is re-creating his own tale and identifying himself with his hero, in the same way each reader or spectator does? Barré maintains an ambiguity about the identities of the characters; she invites us to speculate on the respective roles of the author and the character, and their eventual permutation.


A series of large drawings complements the exhibition. They are inspired by the cinematographic imaginary too and make visible the process of elaboration of the movie, through a mix of sketches and written notes. The drawings contribute to demystify the fiction and the way it is constructed. With a simple though accurate line, and colorfields, Barré reinterprets in an aesthetic and sensitive way the artificial means that keep illusion and dream alive.

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