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Director of <br/>
Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain, Brest
<span class="alinea"></span>“Trisha Donnelly’s work is usually qualified as conceptual, but that’s for lack of a better word—or to suggest that grasping her work isn’t an obvious task. (…) She doesn’t address herself to our understanding but to our imagination, as well as to the anxiety we experience when we are faced with something unknown, presented to us in an unfamiliar language,” wrote art critic Éric Troncy in 2016 in the magazine <i>Numéro</i>. The American artist’s work does indeed maintain a certain distance from the viewer, a distance that produces anxiety. This anxiety is experienced by the (often circumspect) audience in reaction to her abstract compositions, filmed images that she alters such that their original appearance is impossible to detect—we can only perceive textures, moving or liquid matter, digital glitches. This anxiety is shared by museums and institutions, by the art world at large, whose foundations Donnelly shakes by refusing to engage in any kind of communication or mediation, by putting forward rumor as an integral part and motor of her work.
<span class="alinea"></span>Donnelly aims to prove, through a digital catharsis, that art is above all an adventure in which we engage as individuals, and that every work, as obscure as it may seem at first glance, constitutes a window that opens onto an imaginary world. What we see is not determined so much by what the artist has decided to show, but by the way in which we allow our minds to wander and our senses to be shaken by her work. The only information provided about her works is the date of their creation. Beyond that, they are untitled. We must then describe them.
<span class="alinea"></span>Composed of digital photographs and analog alterations of their printing or processing, the video <i>Untitled</i>, 2016, is a game of pictorial surfaces. This inextricable fusion of source codes becomes organic matter, oscillatory and vibratory. It captivates our gaze and disrupts our senses. The video’s field seems to expand infinitely. The artist plays with the speed with which the images appear, so that they seem like sequential movements, resulting in a constant impression of extension, folding, and transformation of a single image on the screen. This process conveys the sensation of diving deep into the strata of time, rather than following its chronological evolution.
<span class="alinea"></span>In contrast, a second work, <i>Untitled</i>, 2017, leaning against the wall, seems to mark a pause, to literally engrave, in the marble of which it is made, the trace of its alteration by some implacably precise cutting tool. The two works seem to play on complementary oppositions. While one loses us in a fluid universe, the other registers the image of a philosopher’s stone; while one summons our imagination by erasing visual points of reference, the other is a haptic ferryman.