by Nathalie Junod Ponsard

The installation entitled Déferlante by Nathalie Junod Ponsard brings together the two essential elements that form the focus of her work: a location—the basement of the Palazzo Farnese—is given a new role to play through the use of light of varying intensities. This use of light to reconfigure a locale entails first finding a space and then analysing its configuration with a view to modifying it, altering it, and redefining it by adding an extra element, namely light. But Déferlante, like all Nathalie Junod Ponsard’s site-specific installations, does not merely produce an illusion in space by using tricks of the light: it offers an experience of space that mobilizes (and even immobilizes) the body and mind of the viewer. The artist’s spatial interventions do not merely highlight the outlines and contours of the setting; more than this, they modify its very density. In this artistic approach we hear a distant echo, and also witness a broadening and shifting, of Matisse’s experiments when he declared: “My pictures are made up of four or five colours that collide with one another, and the collision gives a feeling of energy”. Nathalie Junod Ponsard develops a programme where the adjustment of colour is subject to variations arising from modifications to two parameters—one chromatic, the other electrical—, which make it possible to overstep thresholds of intensity and inject new energy into both architecture and the environment. The modifications create sensations that vary in stages—in a register that leads from dazzlement to anaesthesia and from disappearance or erasure to dizziness—and which combine the physical disruption of spatial reference points via electrical saturation with the physiological disturbance of perceptive reference points via a surfeit of information hitting the retina. This parameter shift takes place between the locale and the viewer, in the changing relationships between them as the latter moves around, because the experience of the work is constantly modified by the position and movement of the viewer: interior/exterior, in/out, speed/immobility now become thresholds within which systems of intensity in space are physically determined. This performative dimension forms the ultimate key to defining Nathalie Junod Ponsard’s work, where the reconfiguration of a locale is always paired with the configuration of an experience, since it is in the differential between body and space, viewer and place, that new reference points which dematerialize and re-materialize physical presence are determined.

Christophe Kihm