Sylvain Meret / Les Marches de l’Été & Kairos Compagnie, Le Modèle de Molinier ou le Cérémonial Narcissique

Review in Issue 18-2 | Summer 2006

This show is inspired by the photomontages of the French painter and photographer Pierre Molinier, whose auto-erotic self portraits depict the artist in an array of sexually charged, faintly sadomasochistic poses: across chairs, balanced on metallic stools, limbs bound in black fishnet and silks, performing his queerness for the camera. In the publicity material for Sylvain Meret’s homage to Moliner, the audience is cast in the position of the artist’s camera: our watching eyes replace his watching lens, the performance that was once for the camera is reimagined as a performance in a theatre. But it is in this very translation, from mechanical lens to living eye, that the whole idea of this project stumbles and falls, and ultimately fails. When looking at Molinier’s images, one catches the details (the textures of the light and the variously eroticised fabrics and prostheses with which Molinier clothes himself), the visual wit plays against the high art pretensions, the sexual explicitness of the images swings rapidly between the shocking and the ridiculous. And when looking at the pictures, one can flick quickly across the weaker images, linger longer over the good ones. But within five minutes of the opening of this show at the ICA, I felt totally trapped, desperate to escape, and utterly bored. Meret, dragged up in fishnets and gloves, bends and bows his body into a series of poses drawn directly from Moliner’s photomontages. Although the elasticity of his body and his garters occasionally catches the eye, the total monotony of pacing throughout the piece, and the deadly seriousness of its presentation, meant that a perceptible unease soon settled over the audience. Although there was one rather beautiful sequence when Meret suddenly and all too briefly began to dance, the show generally had that feeling of urgency that only comes when you hope that every moment will be the last. Perhaps this piece would work better in a more intimate space, with the audience able to come and go, in control of how they watch, as they are in a photographic exhibition. But instead, forced to watch and wait just like the artist’s camera lens, I felt totally disengaged from the piece. And the show, in the end, is exactly what its subtitle says it is: an exercise in narcissism which, like the beautiful youth himself, dies a slow, slow death as a result of its own self-absorption.

Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 2006

This article in the magazine

Issue 18-2
p. 26