With the support of: Atelier Calder, Saché
Acknowledgements: Bastide Projects, Marseille; Essex Street, New York; Simon Lee Gallery, London, Guillaume Blanc, Corinne Bouvier
Valerie Snobeck was an artist in residence at the l’Atelier Calder from May to July 2018.
For her second exhibition at Le Consortium Museum, Build of a Nearby Valley while Looking Afar, Valerie Snobeck presents a body of work made specifically for the exhibition during her residency at the Atelier Calder. The Atelier Calder was established in 1989 by members of the Calder family in collaboration with the Centre National des Arts Plastiques as an artist residency at Alexander Calder’s home and studio in Saché, France. Since then, it has welcomed many artists such as Jessica Stockholder, Trisha Donnelly or Rachel Harrison.
Snobeck’s exhibition reflects on her preoccupations with environmental concerns and concentrates on the especially fraught legacy of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C. and its uneasy relationship with industrial lobbies, especially under the current administration with its rollback of previous regulatory measures. For this project she was interested in expanding and drawing together distance and time, dissolving boundaries between the body and architecture, between generations and complicating the boundaries erected by the State between itself and the people it purports to serve.
Here, Snobeck draws from the architecture of the EPA building to create components removed from its neoclassical façade and reduced in scale to body-sized elements, thus upending viewers’ relationship with architectural details normally experienced on a monumental scale, or from a distance. Additionally, the components Snobeck has selected are transformed or translated under the influence of her French residency, merging appropriated visual tropes into something new. Arches, niches, corbels, doors and windows are shown disembodied from the original building, stripped of their monumentality; doors are presented as standalone elements, “falseworks,” the name deriving from an architectural term, are weight-bearing elements used to build stone arches, here shown as ghosts or skeletons, temporary structures serving as symbolic equivalent rather than exact copies of the original building components, whether from the EPA or from the French high-speed train rail structure.
Some of her sculptures are constructed at an almost miniature scale, such as the drystacked tuffeau limestone niche, a stone typical of the Touraine region, sized like a child’s toy and built in such a way to make it movable and changeable. Others reprise the doors of the EPA building but as having been translated into French Postwar elementary school doors, governmental swing doors where the top inscription has been altered from one side, and where top and bottom are locked to prevent them from being used.