Le Bonheur at Interface / Berlin

Le Bonheur

Chloé Bensahel, Alizée Gazeau, Charles Hascoët, Nils Köpfer, Bianca Lee Vasquez, Ornaghi & Prestinari, Eleonora Santucci

24.07. – 31.07.2021

Curated by Livia Parmantier

Kolonnenstr 28
10829 Berlin

Images courtesy the artists and Interface
Photos: Quentin Latour Dauvergne

In a 1965 interview, the French writer Jean Giono expressed his vision of happiness. “Happiness is aside” 1, he said, it can be born from everyday moments, often seemingly insignificant and dependent on inexplicable personal predispositions: “a sheet of paper that slips well” 2 when writing, “a well executed piece of work” 3, a particular feeling, the sight of an object, of a landscape, can become the catalysts of such a feeling. These moments bring an additional depth to the present, to things as they are. They open to an elsewhere that the usual glance does not perceive. This exhibition presents the works of artists who have retained such instants.
The garden hosts Phaethon Part III, an installation by Alizée Gazeau. This composition is the third iteration of the artwork. A fabric made of rhombuses and sewn leather scales located outside the exhibition space forms a surface crossed by the light, the leaves, the shadows of the day, the birds. It evokes an inner state suspended between the earth and the sky, the experience of an “absence parallel to presence” 4 associated with moments of rambling, reading or falling asleep, in which one extracts themselves from the dynamics of the world.
Bianca Lee Vasquez explores the therapeutic powers of dirt. Soil High Series brings into the exhibition space a portion of fertile compost soil on which fired clay figures are installed. A substance developed by the artist, composed of soil and readily accessible commercial products which carry an active dirt bacterium, is diffused across the exhibition space. A recent discovery concerning soil microbes and mental health has highlighted the ability of mycobacterium vaccae present in soil to create a feeling of happiness by boosting the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine. By virtue of inhalation the artwork will literally be present in the body of the viewer. The installation will be activated by a performance by the artist.
Chloé Bensahel’s tapestries play on the passage from the visible to the invisible. Poems written on strips of Japanese paper are encapsulated along the entire length of the weaving thread. Fragments of text escape from it and dot the surface of the fabric with random chromatic variations. The poetry is present but cannot be read. A fraction of text appears at the end of the tapestry or on the surface of the fabric to leave a part of interpretation to the spectator. The “ambiguity of reading and interpretation” 5 that we are often confronted with in our relationship to the world provokes a discomfort that these works invite us to tame.
Untitled (Chorin) by Nils Köpfer evokes the blurred contours of a landscape seen from an interior. The image refers to an escape from reality, like that of a child who would squint in order to reinvent the world, or the trace of a distant memory reshaped by subjectivity. Painting is experienced by the artist as a refuge, a space that is maintained by small touches “like a garden” 6. Open to the outside, he architecture points to an interconnectedness between the pictorial practice and the link to nature.
Architect Eleonora Santucci presents Les maisons que j’habite (The Houses I Live In), a series of sketches initiated in March 2020. Relying on her memory only, the architect reconstructed the structure of each room, piece of furniture and details of the apartments she has lived in since leaving her family home. “Representing these interiors meant drawing the places that define me, where each room is a world in itself.” 7 This series of sketches acts as a remedy to having renounced the living spaces that once constituted us.
The works of the duo Ornaghi & Prestinari punctuate the exhibition space. Funambolo, an alabaster clothespin suspended on a taut wire, seems to speak for us. Like a “visual poetry”, it condenses in its form a feeling of precarious balance and existential doubt. Chapeau discreetly takes on the form of an alabaster cork placed on a beer bottle. The objects manipulated and left after use suggest in their own way the frame of a life scene and preserve the trace of a social interaction.
Charles Hascoët’s paintings present fragments of life scenes in small formats that incite us to look closer. The objects and individuals represented seem to be animated by a secret will and carry in their contour the look that one would have cast on them. A sense of expectation becomes manifest in the form of a sparsely watered cactus; a lemon resting on its curvature retains the special glow of a day, a friend in a state of confidence dozes in a comfortable armchair, the shimmering colours of a bottle of Listerine revive a sense of wonder.

1 Jean Giono, in Jean Giono s’entretient avec Claude Santelli, series « La nuit écoute », 1965
2 Ibidem
4 “Questa esperienza di assenza, parallela alla presenza […]”, [our translation], Emanuele Coccia, Filosofia della casa. Lo spazio domestico e la felicità, Einaudi, 2021, p. 92
5. Interview with artist Chloé Bensahel, June 17, 2021
6. Interview with artist Nils Köpfer, June 29, 2021
7 Eleonora Santucci, Les maisons que j’habite, 2021

Livia Parmantier