Natacha Nisic. Écho, at the Jeu de Paume.
Most of the recent exhibitions I have seen at the Jeu de Paume struck me, in various ways. Natacha Nisic's solo show, entitled Écho, did the same.
Nisic, born in Grenoble, France, in 1967, works with various mediums (video, photography, drawings), and especially with video, the chosen medium for most of the exhibition. Overall, her work deals with the inducible and invisible relation between images, words, symbols, but also the repetition of gestures and rituals, most of the times blurring times, past, present, and future. In Écho, curated by Nisic herself and Marta Gili, a selection of works made from 1995 onwards is installed in the Jeu de Paume’s first floor spaces.
The first work, Catalogue de gestes (Catalogue of gestures) (1995), is a video installation of several tv monitors on which pairs of hands do repetitive actions such as peeling an orange, cleaning hands, or knitting. The videos feel intimist and at the same time quite ordinary, as they depict everyday hand gestures. The way they are sequenced, short videos in a continuous loop, accentuates the gestures’ repetitive aspect, always in complete silence. Catalogue de gestes is Nisic’s earliest work presented in the show, as an introduction to the three main installations, and as a reminder of her interests.
Andrea (2013) is Nisic’s main piece presented in Écho. The installation features nine tv monitors installed on the floor, inviting the audience to sit, or lay down, on pillows. The video shows a dialogue between two ‘civilizations’, a bridge between the West and the East, with two characters from Germany traveling to Korea in different times. Norbert Weber, a Bavarian christian missionary that went to Korea in the 1920s and made one of the first film about the country, and Andrea Kalff, a contemporary Bavarian woman who, in 2007, became a shaman, the spiritual daughter of Kim Keum-hwa, the most important Korean shaman. Nisic followed and filmed Andrea’s journey and experience, which is a complete fascination and devotion to an apparent very distant culture than her native one. The dialogue with the earlier 20th century missionary, whose evangelist mission shows a part of colonization history, is made possible by the tv monitors facing each other. Between fiction and documentary, Andrea’s story gets real when you would find her business cards left at the corner of the monitors…
e (2009) and f (2013) are two projects dealing with the tragic earthquake that happened in Fukushima, Japan, in 2008. e is a video on three screens that depicts the earthquake’s consequences on the landscapes and people living around Fukushima. f is a video made in response to e, which Nisic shot two years after the earthquake, still showing the effects of the catastrophe on the people, landscapes, and villages. The video is a long traveling with mirrors, showing the sides of the effects, the before and after, with only one gaze.
Overall, Nisic’s show at the Jeu de Paume is mesmerizing for the great quality of her video works, but also for her deep dedication to her subject matters, which all relate to human (bad or good) experiences, especially outside of the West. The way the show has been curated allows the viewers to really dive into her works, to take the time to watch and learn about other people’s life and manners, and to think about our owns.
Natacha Nisic. Écho is on view at the Jeu de Paume until January 26, 2014.