In the beginning, photography was a labor of patience. Time was needed for light to leave an imprint on paper and for a form to emerge. Marie Clerel is attentive to the lessons of the early masters. She is capable, for example, of spending long minutes waiting for the ghostly outline of a star to take shape. This is what she does in the series devoted to the moon, beautifully titled Lunaisons. The artist exposes the paper to the glow of the moon until the rounded form of the earth’s satellite appears, tracing a perfect, full, white disk. Bypassing the use of a camera, the artist employs vintage, contactless techniques, such cyanotype and celestography, invented by August Strindberg. Light strikes the paper directly, leaving its mark.
Marie Clerel proceeded in a similar fashion in her series Midi, making an image every day at noon, on the dot. She would expose photosensitive paper to sunlight and wait until it left its imprint. The paper, as if it were the surface of the sky, would either take on a blue tint or remain somewhat grey, which indicated whether the day was bright or cloudy. The artist successfully recorded a whole spectrum of ambivalence in her compelling calendar, inspiring daydreams about the passage of time and our own traces in the world. Marie Clerel seeks out vestiges, whatever is left behind on a surface, the substrata of things.
Another series featured at the gallery was made on aging paper. As a result, over time, the colors will change. Barely visible, these transformations show the fidelity of Marie Clerel’s oeuvre to movement and to life itself, etching in our minds a sense of time.
By Jean-Baptiste Gauvin
Marie Clerel «et le soleil l’attend…»
From March 22 to May 11, 2019
Galerie Binome, 19 rue Charlemagne, Paris 75004