During a residence in the United Kingdom for the summer of 2016, I started several in situ interventions that I continued in other towns and other countries.I look for places to write. Words that are in line with the places where I put them and with emotions of the moment.Once the intervention left on site, photography is added to the process of creation.Works in situ, chalk, collage, spray paint / 21 photographs, 30x40cm.
This installation is the result of two readings I did, Happening by Annie Ernaux and Hysteric by Nelly Arcan. The authors describe their abortion experience at different times. The title Water child is the translation of the Japanese word “mizuko”. This expression refers to babies who died without seeing the daylight. Twenty-seven cobblestones are each pierced with a blue knitting needle. The same color as that used by Annie Ernaux in 1963. The number twenty-seven refers to abortions made by Marie-Louise Giraud, the only French angel maker who have been guillotined in 1943 for her actions.Installation, 27 granite cobblestones, 27 acrylic knitting needles, variable dimensions.
CARESSE MA LANGUE AVEC LA TIENNE (caress my tongue with yours) is written with maca powder and placed on a concrete slab table. The sentence recalls, obviously, a languorous kiss but that is the image of cultural exchange too, a meeting, a melting. The maca is a plant with many virtues, including that of increased sexual desire.Installation, steel, concrete, wood, maca powder, 170x30x100cm.
Murmures aims to create social links between the spectators, through small gestures that I activate.
Throughout the performance, the audience receives elements intended for one person, each time different. To obtain all the information, it is necessary to communicate. Murmures braves Covid-19 and social distancing, it is a performance that calls for contact and discussion. It talks about our relationship with others, the need or not to live together.
The French word "murmure" designates the flight of starlings who move in groups in order to protect themselves from danger.Performance, variable duration.
“Nearly ten years later, Élodie Merland returned to the places where she narrated her descriptions (One hour galleries); not a single telephone box. The artist then took a photograph of these spaces freed of their cramped edifices. The artist’s photographs evoke that which has been erased rather than buried. Moreover, they do not refer to History’s tragic events, but rather to the histories of the billions of non-recorded conversations, deemed unimportant and inenarrable, that were shared through hundreds of thousands of now obsolete telephone boxes.”Arnaud Dejeammes, Waiting, attentiveness (extract), 2021.52 photographs, 40x60cm / book, 20x29cm, 72 pages.
On a concrete pillow, the sentence JE ME RETIENDRAI DE SAISIR CET OREILLER POUR T’ÉTOUFFER (I will keep from grabbing this pillow to suffocate you) is engraved. This pillow could be that of a slightly unmade bed, sheets that would have a lived experience. The sentence speaks of love and death, domestic violence. From that brief time when in an excess of anger, sadness, and helplessness, we could kill our love in one gesture. This moment when we refrain from committing the irreparable.Sculpture, concrete, 56x49x15cm.
Love is waiting is a non-exhaustive list of my expectations for love – past or present – written in English, a language that is not my own. Each phrase is followed by a silence of a varied length. There are two versions of this performance. The first was to say the text by walking a hundred paces toing and froing over a few meters. The second was set up during the first lockdown of 2020, it was broadcast live on social networks from my home. My face was filmed in close-up so that the viewer could read my expressions there.Performance, variable duration / video, 19'16" / book, 13.4x20cm, 32 pages.
This video was made on 30th October 2019, on a Folkestone beach in the United Kingdom. This date was the eve of the day that the UK was due to leave the European Union. The third rescheduled date thus far, but the date of the exit was eventually postponed until 31st January 2020. The reading direction of the sentence WAVES NEVER STOP CROSSING BORDERS is oriented towards France. This sentence evokes Brexit, but it also talks about all the borders that thousands of people are prohibited from crossing daily.Intervention in situ, spray paint / video, 13'25".
In the garden of the Sisters of Providence (Namur-BE) there is a path that leads to nothing. This place rich in irony and poetry particularly attracts me, mainly by its discretion. In my work I am very drawn to places that leave us indifferent, by their banality. I like to give them a different point of view. This path reminds me of life itself, our life journey, not in its linearity of course but in its purpose. A goal, a destination. We constantly need to know where we are going and what awaits us at the end. But does a stroll necessarily need an end purpose? Isn't it the whole adventure we have to consider and appreciate?Sculpture, reinforced concrete, 227x16x7.5cm.
I have re-made the performance Love is waiting for the exhibition Ménage à trois in Ghent. The text has been expanded by two new phrases and translated into Dutch. I therefore faced challenging work of memory and pronunciation as this language was until now relatively unknown to me.Performance, variable duration / sound recording, 16'07".
Collective exhibition.Mira Albrecht invites Élodie Merland and Ed Sanders for a Belgian/French/British “ménage à trois”. An artistic cohabitation in Poort 8, that focuses towards the notion of interior and intimacy.Poort 8 / Ghent, Belgium (May-June 2019).
What about escaping for a moment? To let aside our daily routine. To talk about nothing and everything, about love, about sex, about death, about oblivion, about time, about loneliness, about laughs. To talk about old age without mentioning the wrinkles. Following a residency early 2018 within the Schadet-Vercoustre foundation – a nursing home in Bourbourg – I have written a gathering of words which ensued from discussions and observations. Time spent with some twenty residents, mostly women, with failing memory. We would (often) get acquainted. Friendships would be born. Tenderness would settle in. Then I would go for a leak and they would forget all about me.Sculpture, corten steel, variable dimensions.
Summer 2017, I roam through the city of Roubaix. Its streets, its neighbourhoods. In my bag, my camera. Out in the fresh air, my eyes wide open. Attentive. Listening. Ready to be surprised. I capture a light, colours, compositions; results of the consumption of daily life. Gradual changes. Deteriorations and neglect. And then, phrases and words. Rubbish becomes still-life. Neighbourhoods are evolving at their own pace. My eyes are focused on this view of this city, which highlights these neighbourhoods, as they are. True to themselves. Hard. Trashy. Sincere. Endearing.30 photographs, 20x30cm / book, 14.8x21cm, 44 pages.
Solo exhibition following a residence wich took place in Folkestone for the summer of 2016.La Plate-Forme / Dunkirk, France (January 2017).
“Transferred from the page to the wall, in white on a white background, the sentence IN THIS STREET ALMOST DESERTED, A MAN SILENTLY PLAYS MUSIC might well go unnoticed, as well as the event from which it comes, could have also gone unnoticed. As is often the case with the work of Élodie Merland, you have to make yourself available.”François Coadou, The discreet charm of details (extract), 2017.White painting on white wall, variable dimensions.
The twenty-two concrete letters which weigh from six to fifteen kilos are placed in piles on floor. I move them. I write. By coming and going my breathlessness increases.JE PLIERAI LES DRAPS SEULE (I will fold the sheets alone) is the sentence I make. Sometimes I think that the only reason to live as a couple is for practical reasons. An action that for me represents this perfectly, is the folding of sheets. Sheets represent inevitably, love as well. The mix of the sensuality of the fabric with the raw aspect of the concrete seemed to me a good way to describe love and its pain.Performance, variable duration / sound recording, 11'03" / sculpture, 22 reinforced concrete letters, variable dimensions.
Finger pointing towards the horizon, I let the many summer tourists think about what I’m trying to show them without using words. Is it the sea? The sky? The pebbles? The seagulls? Or simply, further? France. The border. Those who find themselves there reflect, wait or try to pass through. The gesture that I hold only lasts until my arm gives way. Thus I stood with my finger pointed for two hours and twenty-eight minutes.Performance/video, 02:28'00".
Both connected by our cell phones, one took the role of the teacher, dictating to the other, words spoken by the passing people she heard in the street. The second became the student, the young girl who is working to transcribe the snatches of conversation. When passers-by were absent or silent the exercise took another rhythm, leaving a set of silences for varying periods and this dictation was transformed into a motionless choreography.The teacher watched every conversation, the student, as for her, waited conscientiously for the next part of the dictation.Performance, variable duration /video, 1:55'00".With Gaëlle Le Floch.
Solo exhibition upon an invitation of IDEA-Z (International Domestic Exhibitions by Affinity).Olivier Lemesle's studio / Rennes, France (June 2012).
Exhibition from graduating students from Higher School of Art - Toulon-Provence-Méditerranée.Espace d’art Le Moulin / La Valette-du-Var, France (October 2010).
On 15th May 2010 at the annual National Museums Night, at 9pm in the LAAC, Lieu d’Art et Action Contemporaine, Dunkirk, a concert was given by 52 people with a mobile phone and standing at 52 music stands. A screen took the place of the bandmaster and diffused a digital timer, which scrolled seconds. Every musician played a phone number corresponding to one of phone boxes located between Dunkirk and Toulon, thus playing an inaudible partition.Movements – calling, waiting, and listening – evoke choreography.Performance, 10'00" / video, 13'50" / scores.
From May 2009 to May 2010, each Sunday and for one hour only, I took over and occupied 52 phone boxes. In each of these boxes, transformed for the occasion into mini art galleries of roughly 1m2, I waited for the calls from people who I had previously invited to join up with me. I would then describe four detailed views with any incidents that occurred while I was watching. Each description lasted roughly 10 minutes; the number of calls per gallery could be, at best, up to six. The whole of these static wanderings are today as audible post cards and their address the illumination of a listened reality.Performance, 1 year / book, 19.7x11cm, 198 pages.
Work in situ and video made at De Panne (Belgium) by the artist's collective NSS (Kévin Bogaert, Béchir Boussandel, Élodie Merland, Laurent Varlet and Wenxi Xiong).Work in situ, aerosol spray paint and dust sheet / video, 03'11" / photograph, 30x40cm.
“The daily newspapers talk of everything except the daily. The papers annoy me, they teach me nothing. What they recount doesn’t concern me, doesn’t ask me questions and doesn’t answer the questions I ask or would like to ask. What’s really going on, what we’re experiencing, the rest, all the rest, where is it? How should we take account of, question, describe what happens every day and recurs everyday: the banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the infra-ordinary, the background noise, the habitual?” | Georges Perec, The Infra-Ordinary (extract), 1989.
“Happenings have introduced into art an element no one had put there: boredom. To do a thing in order to bore people is something I never imagined! And that's too bad, because it's a beautiful idea.” | Marcel Duchamp, Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp by Pierre Cabanne (extract), 1967.
“I always question artists who are successful in whatever they do, I think what that means is that they're repeating themselves and not taking enough risks. If you experiment, you have to fail. By definition, experimenting means going to territory where you've never been, where failure is very possible. How can you know you're going to succeed? Having the courage to face the unknown is so important.” | Marina Abramović, Walk Through Walls (extract), 2016.