If you happen to find yourself in Paris, I strongly recommend Neïl Beloufa’s exhibition En torrent et second jour at Fondation d’entreprise Ricard. This exposition provides a perplexing entity, with a combination of sculpture, video, installations and photography. These elements end up being a linear exposure, a real indulgence for the spectator, while displaying a puzzling series of work completed by the final touch of Mihnea Mircan, the invited curator.
The exhibition space consists of several rooms: in the first one, the artist’s video Brune Renault from 2010 is on view. The settings are quite simplistic: four teenagers finding themselves in a red Renault in a parking garage. It seems like a typical Friday evening, with fleeting moments of disagreements, flirting and jealousy, characters being like classic movie figures. However, a rupture appears once realizing that they only pretend to drive in circles in the parking lot, everything around is moving except them: the passing landscapes flashing through the windows are finally, only a moving stage. The whole video seems like an eternal repetition, with Johnny Hallyday’s song Le penitentier coming from the stereos over and over again: “Haven’t we already been here?” asks one of the girls repeatedly.
The first room with its projection serves as a starting point and as a conclusion for the rest of the exhibition: when entering the other rooms, we can always discover traces from the first one. Exploring the second room, with its installations and videos, is like witnessing a crime scene: everything seems to be in a chaotic order. There is a disturbing feeling, something is definitely wrong. Still hearing the traces from Hallyday’s song, seeing a video with the very same characters as in the first one: it seems like a reproduction of the first scene, this time with real life settings. We’re part of an experimentation, with video cameras, microphones and surveying eyes: as if we were kept under surveillance, but at the same time, having the power to survey others. This surrealistic experience between different worlds is emphasized with the objects: high tech combined with clumsy, childish like sculptures.
In the third room, the characters that we’ve already met reappear in different forms, with a monitor presenting a live edit: surveillance camera footage synchronized with Brune Renault. This is where the exhibition reaches its final closure: there are so many necessary, yet unnecessary elements, which held the entity together. The final parts of the exhibition are recurrent with the thematic while questioning several dichotomies: where are the borders between reality and fiction, presence and absence? What does the cause and effect stand for? When merging these components, the artist deconstructs our beliefs and prevailing ideas, while proposing that the fiction can be real, and vice versa.
Neïl Beloufa at Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, until May 24 2014.