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Sophie Ristelhueber, Sunset Years

“Sophie Ristelhueber returned to the Dead Sea. Time, inexorably, has continued to do its work there. It is no longer the melancholic palm trees of the Allenby Bridge that are now curling up on themselves, deserted by the vital flow that kept them standing: it is the world. Flying over ancient sites of this dried-up sea, she saw crevasses, round crevasses, sometimes isolated, sometimes side by side, which seemed to drink the shadow like black ink. No impact, however, no body having fallen from the sky justified that: it is the ground, here, which collapses on itself. Too dry, too exhausted, too abandoned by the water that kept it alive. Rising towards the sky to see this, Sophie Ristelhueber brought to light the underworld : the palm trees have disappeared, the ground is swallowing itself, what will be left when the underworld has finished devouring the overworld ?”


“In Paris, one warm summer, Sophie Ristelhueber photographed sidewalks. Not just any sidewalk, but some of those covered with asphalt that sometimes blister under the combined action of the heat and the subsoil they cover. To do this, to make visible these bulging forms, like blisters, that she calls “bubons”, the artist has watered the asphalt. Useful gesture, certainly, so that each asperity, each grain, each relief of this world seen at ground level shines of a singular glare. A symbolic gesture, above all, when one thinks of these other images, that she shows at the same time, of this sea dead of thirst. One could, in front of this suddenly aerial tar, dream of a black planet – black and alive. But there is this word – “bubbles” – that sounds like an alert. Something, underneath, is working, like a plague at work that animates the surface of the world with a final movement : diastole and systole, craters and bubbles, obverse and reverse of the same wounded surface.”

Pierre Wat

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23 Mar. - 3 May 2019