COVER STORY #05
Text by Déborah Laks
[…] Mélanie Matranga explores situations in which everyday life is transformed and swayed by the smallest events, which almost succeed in turning the characters into people, but always fail at the threshold.
Her work is the kind that plunges its roots into intimacy – hers, that of her viewers – in order to blossom in the plural. In her exhibition spaces, viewers find themselves becoming extras. In order to create the forest of doors in positive and negative relief on a translucent sheet that hangs from the ceiling, rolling out to the floor, Matranga enlisted the help of her friends, who lent her the doors of their Paris apartments. Familiar and strange, the settings she creates recruit the viewers, who find and lose themselves in them.
The lamps presented at the Palais de Tokyo are reminiscent of those paper balls everyone has hastily placed around bare lightbulbs. Disproportionate, produced in series or handmade by Matranga and her team, they disrupt our habits.
In the exhibition, viewers look at them, walk around them, stick their head inside. What they think they recognize eludes them. Thus one advances into the work of the artist of recognition and diversion, and every time the familiar catches up with us, it leads us astray.
Matranga’s sofas retain the spoils of our nights, and under the pale whiteness that these works give off, the artificial paradises seem derisory and devoured, the loves seem reduced to worn rags. This party theme is found in several of her works: drawings, sculptures and installations explore its various facets. Her drawings – lanky strokes of a pen, released without haste – portray those late afternoons, when the body gets out of the habit of working and the frames seem like they could dissolve in wine and smoke. With the point of her pen, Matranga traces the flows that link us to things. Impulses and troubles slither through the air; her lines give shape to them and the spaces waver, saturated with desires and their feeble solutions. […] the artist questions the place of the unique. Her drawings weave motifs of a social and societal backdrop that sometimes shackles more than it unites.
In her clay sculptures, linked with speakers or scattered on the floor, work and partying clash but always seem to get the better of out-of-shape characters, their faces downcast, their individuality masked and as if dissolved in the situations. Now Matranga constructs office scenes in which vaguely threatening computer cables are also absurd noodles in large cooking pots; now she creates rugs that are veritable worlds in which characters get lost and languish. But their eyes and features are always evasive, and while banality and normality sway under the blows of an accursed share, of a surfacing excess, still madness, despair, even ways of escape remain ordinary.
This is the struggle that Matranga reports, that of the individual trying to blossom, to fully exist. The mirror she holds up to us is nevertheless indulgent and almost tender. Even as she tears away the veil of naivety, she gives us room for possibilities, encounters and warmth.
(Excerpt from: Déborah Laks, Have a Drink with Mélanie Matranga, published on CURA. #21, 2016)
Photos by T-SPACE and Henrik Blomqvist