Elen Hallégouët at Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain

Artist: Elen Hallégouët 

Exhibition title: Je te cavernerai

Venue: Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain, Brest, France

Date: October 16, 2020 – January 16, 2021

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain

As part of the Workshops in Residence, in partnership with Documents d’Artistes Bretagne, Elen Hallégouët is presenting her first personal exhibition in an art centre. Elen Hallégouët sought inspiration in the fertile Breton land and designed a huge immersive installation on the upper floor of the building, combining the history of religious sculpture with political engagement and an imaginary world of water and its legends.

The artist took her title ‘Je te cavernerai (I’ll cavern you)’ from a composition by the poet John Keats taken from his correspondence, referring to the style of the Gothic novel. This piece of writing is key to understanding the political statement of the artist: the Church, despite existing for millennia, has not succeeded in totally eliminating traditions which have survived it, whereas the neo-liberal system has in the space of a few years been able to erase eternal rituals and cultures. Although the period the artist observes for the exhibition is before the time of Keats, the idea of the fantastical bestiary and relics from pagan times, as well as a fascination for the appropriation of past worlds, are found at the heart of the project.

Elen Hallégouët has taken over existing forms; she has cast sculptures in the mould of various churches and architectural elements of the churchyards of Finistère. These forms – dragons, mermaids and other fantastic figures – inherit a new life, in full transparency, and are associated with other, abstract forms, which also play with the question of the visible. Glass sculptures in the form of netting demarcate spaces and constitute a floating space, evoking an aquatic world. On the floor are arranged sculptures evoking mineral aggregates, which accompany visitors as they wander through, constructing a terrestrial map of the cosmos. Elen Hallégouët constructs a route for the senses, playing with brightness and the impression of the real. Shadows and lights, which she includes in the work, refer as much to Keats’ poem as to Plato’s allegory of the cave. The artist manipulates the materials by diverting them from their traditional use: plastic thus becomes delicate while glass is transformed into a wall and into heavenly remnants. With Elen Hallégouët, archaeology mingles with the future and legends leave the world of the imagination to materialise in the present.

This provides a unique opportunity for the joint production in 2021 of an exhibition with Les Enclos Paroissiaux – Le CIAP (Centre d’interprétation de l’architecture et du patrimoine [Architecture and heritage interpretation centre]) on the Guimilau site (Finistère).

In partnership with Documents d’Artistes Bretagne
As part of ‘Chantiers-Résidence’, a residence programme for emerging artists in Brittany.

This programme has the benefit of support from Suravenir, a subsidiary of Crédit Mutuel ARKEA.

Thanks to Sével Services – Brest, UBO – Open Factory and ActuaPlast – La Forêt-Fouesnant for their support.