Cecile Hartmann

les églises centre d'art contemporain

October 6, 2010

Cécile Hartmann

3 October – 28 November 2010

Saturday, 9 October 2010

rue éterlet
77500 Chelles, France


What guides poetic thinking is the persuasion that even if the living is subject to the ruin of time, the process of deterioration is at once that of a crystallization; the fact is that in the depths of the seas where what formerly lived founders and dissolve, certain things “suffer from a marine alteration” and survive in new and crystallized forms which are immunized against the elements, as if they were awaiting the pearl fisher who will one come towards them and take them back to the world of the quick…
—Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 1958

With her solo show SUPRA- CONTINENT, Cécile Hartmann conjures up the geographical hypothesis of the common surface formed by the continents before their present-day drift. In a global contemporary world in a state of perpetual fragmentation, the exhibition questions not the utopia of a shared earth, but the representation of a “being-in-common” that is unstable and indeterminate.

If continental drift is a tectonic movement of separation, and wrenching-free, it is also a moment of liaisons of structures and energy distribution. Echoing this telluric mechanics, the exhibition comes across like a force field. Between the works on view climatic influences are at work, and a question emerges: is it possible to conceive of an exchange surface between environment and social arena.

The works contain the idea of a resistance peculiar to matter. The altered expanse of ice might be seen as the complementary surface of a social fracture, and may contain, in the unforeseeable cast of its sparkles, other “forms of counter-power”.

The series of photographic images called Variations (2010) is based on shots of movements of freezing and thawing. Through an inversion from positive to negative, these white images move towards uncertain zones.

The film Manifest, versus vital (2010) proceeds from an aesthetics of reconstitution. It consists in getting an anonymous figure in a wild natural setting to re-enact, over and over again, in a loop, the violent gestures of an urban protester. The signs between the works answer each other in an atmosphere of suspense and low-level tension. The shot involving fluid and repetitive streaking of the filmed images, and the amplification of the vertical formats of the frozen images, develop a physical sensation of closeness and immersion in a “meta-real territory”. An anthracite colour, crossed by hot and cold shades, spreads over the works like a neutral zone which calls to mind the texture of steam or carbon mist, elements common to the vegetable, animal and mineral world.

Cécile Hartmann’s photographs, films and pictorial objects, operate like “dialectical leitmotivs.” Through processes of shift and mix, this artist’s particular vision consists in simultaneously grasping the violence of contemporary geopolitical and economic forms of power play, and “their possible regeneration” in heterogeneous pictorial forms stemming from live geological and organic forces.


Cécile Hartmann has been involved in shows in France and abroad, in particular La Force de l’Art in 2006, in Paris, and Emerging Artists in Vienna in 2005. In 2008, the Centre Photographique d’Ile-de-France and the Centre de Création Contemporaine in Tours each devoted a solo show to her work: Mirages à demeure and Microclimat. In 2009 her works were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Bogotà and the Museum of Photography in Thessalonika.

“Cécile Hartmann’s images give shape to theoretical hunches and a sensitive understanding of the conditions of co-existence of life forms in the hypermodern day and age. The political dimension of her work should be taken as being intrinsically bound up with the aesthetic issue, understood as a quest involving the rush of emotions caused by transformations made by Beauty in its negotiation with Reality. What is at stake for Cécile Hartmann is showing what links the subject to the Other, and explaining what, in contemporary culture, is being concretely and symbolically played out in the comprehension of a necessary (re-)construction of the notion of community, by way of representations.” Pascal Beausse, 2007.


Introducing the Art Centre

The two adjoining churches of Sainte-Croix and Saint-Georges, listed as Historic Monuments in 1984, have been restored and subsequently converted to a place where contemporary art is disseminated, by the designer Martin Szekely and the architect Marc Barani, as part of a public commission. It was inaugurated in 2008. Their design, simply making the place available to accommodate contemporary art works, represents an overall rehabilitation of the interior of the churches and their surrounding area, “without heaping Pelion on Ossa”.

From now on the art centre puts on four exhibitions a year, inviting artists to produce site-specific works dealing with the issue of territories.


les églises
centre d’art contemporain
rue éterlet
77500 Chelles (France)

free admission
friday, saturday, sunday
2 pm — 5 pm and appointment.

press & public relations
faustine douchin
t +33 [0]1 64 72 65 70
f.douchin [​at​] chelles.fr

*Image above:
© Cécile Hartmann.