Jean Baptiste Para, The elusive

September 2000
Accompanying the Corinne Mercadier exhibition, Espace 1789 at Saint-Ouen

Objects, worldly things which appear in Corinne Mercadier’s photographs, seem to be there inadvertently. Or rather, they do not constitute the sole subject. They do not noisily impose their presence, they do not demand our gaze. That which lives in them, that which they manifest, is maybe the silent and forgotten part of love which resides in everything. These objects do not emerge in the light of a fugitive hour, they don’t gleam in their lively freshness. They do not stay on the shimmering surface of the moment, but in the unsuspected depth, there where all life joins the slow progress of the ages, the air of infancy and the infancy of air, the shady memory.

One could not say on first sight whether Corinne Mercadier’s photographs expose a presence or an absence. They show that to which we are simultaneously very close to and infinitely separated from. The dark waters of a lake, the colour of the sky, a length of wall, an abandoned glass demijohn on a beach become suddenly dearer to our hearts than a possessed treasure. The shadows gain in density, the light becomes more intense, the grain of time diffuses itself in colour, the details become rare, the nudity accentuates itself around the souls of the things. Often, the objects seem submitted to a force of attraction which keeps them on the borders of the frame, as if to leave a space for a central and overexposed void.
“Love is an exception of the void. But the void concentrates itself around love”, wrote Roberto Juarroz. It is possibly that which Corinne Mercadier tries to take hold of: not things but the space between things, this gap where they find themselves and where they discover an interior tear like an echo, this consubstantial void which threatens to envelop them but which can also bear them in the same way as it supports the flight of birds.
This void is also the sky, when the sky is the other name for a striving towards the absolute which causes humans to believe in their own humanity. It is the same as this thirst felt in a dream which nothing can relieve but which, paradoxically, man can bring to an end out of the dream. Because this void is like the fast of the visible, if the fast is this experience where our hunger and our thirst, refraining from being satisfied, become in their turn food. It is in this way that Corinne Mercadier’s void is not the abyss of nothing but the elusive energy of desire which fills space like music, without image and without trace.
Among her recent works, Corinne Mercadier realised Glasstypes. They are photographs of paintings on glass. Under a spectral, immaterial perspective, mysterious objects emerge. Some resemble the nocturnal apparition of cloth or clothes transported on the air. Others are of indefinable geometrical crystallisations. We are no longer dealing with images, with reproductions. They are not things that one could name, but imminences. Without reference in the outside world, a halo of enigmas surrounds them. “Things born of the indeterminate” said Anaximandre. Glasstypes gives a presence to the indeterminate, there where the being of things finds its source. They are strict luminous manifestations, a way of giving a corporal presence to light which gives visibility and which is itself invisible.
In Dreaming Journal, her work notebook, Corinne Mercadier wrote this comment: “Glasstypes are also the representation of the desire of the pure state. The desire-gem.” In the approaching night, this desire is the excess of the day. It is this strange presence which can not be represented. And it is indeed this which Corinne Mercadier photographs. She takes shots of that which has no image and which can not be named. That which lives with us and which evades language, that which cannot be reduced, that of which it remains dispossessed, that is suffering for us. We call it void, gap, desire. That is simultaneously painful and beautiful to us. If Corinne Mercadier’s photographs matter to us, if they have a lasting power of commotion, it is possibly because they show nothing else: only the enigmatic in us which gives itself in its strongest talent.

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