Cour intérieure, September 27

Marie Bovo

Date : 2008

Medium : Photography

Size : 120 x 152 cm

Ilfochrome print, mounted under plexiglas & glued onto aluminium

Marie Bovo's works are firmly grounded in reality, sometimes raising geopolitical and social issues, while strongly reflecting the literary and poetic inspirations influencing her thoughts and worldview. Each of her works reveals the dual dimension in her subjects, turning simple, specific situations into the expression of a universal aspect, where past meets present, and different cultures, particularly in the Mediterranean world, join together.

Marie Bovo's series entitled "cours intérieures" (inner courtyards) looks at inner courtyards in the Belzunce areas of Marseille. The principle is noticeably the same as for her "Bab-el-louk" series, taken in Cairo, although this time the lens is turned towards the sky. The sky, which is literally framed by the walls of the buildings, giving these images a prison-like atmosphere, forms an intangible rectangle, a hole or vacuum that becomes full, an inaccessible means of escape. The quadrilateral suggests the white cinema screens of Hiroshi Sugimoto. It also conjures up the practice of ancient Roman augurs who would draw a virtual rectangle in the sky and count the number of birds who passed through it look for good and bad omens. It even suggests a good metaphor for photography, in the form of those light wells where the light attempts to draw in the rare photons that penetrate to such a depth.

The guide

The Spanish artist, Marie Bovo, creates a stunning perspective. In some ways it is anti-naturalist because one must crane one’s neck to look at things in the same way. The impression that seizes us as we look at this photograph is even stronger because she places us, the viewers, in the heart of an enclosure that is only emphasised by the light-filled gap at its centre. Indeed, the work is a paradox, opened and closed.

If, in traditional painting, the window offers an opening on the world, a way to communicate, here the artist reverses that proposition. Dozens of windows surround the spectator. Look at them. Do you have a sense of openness, of space? No. Even if they glow with interior light, these windows evoke a confined space. This may be because for the most part the shutters or the windows themselves are closed, or because the shot reinforces this experience of the space.

Let us consider now another element. The haphazard placement of the anachronistic clotheslines breaks the rigorous geometry of the composition: square courtyard, square gap filled with light, rectangular window, the rectangular format of the work, its symmetry. They act as the lone symbol of communication. The captured movement of the white sheets reveals a very long exposure time.

Indeed, it seems like a long time because this photograph immerses the viewer in an imprisoning universe, with only the hope of light.