Marcel Dinahet Figures 2008 video installation

La Criée Centre of Contemporary Art, Rennes,  France


Visitors enter through double doors and are plunged into swimming-pool-blue, the light from four large video projections, installed into a high ceilinged hall. Swimming-pool-blue is luke warm. It is not azure. It is not sublime. 


Each projection shows different footage of the same woman submerged underwater. The cameraman circles the woman at a slow underwater pace, filming her face and shoulders, the odd sluggish movement of thick black hair waving in the water, the tiny bubbles clinging to her nose. 


The woman is not fat, but she is bodily; weighted despite being made weightless by the water.  The camera does not linger on her flesh in a voyeuristic manner, and though her eyes are closed the woman appears in control. With her eyes shut she is turned within herself –a closed physical object.


One video is shot at a slight downwards angle, panning round the top of her head. Another is filmed closer; the screen is filled with a metre long ear, a large expanse of blue tinged cheek. It is not seductive or beautiful, and there is almost no narrative, but it isn’t boring.


Each video loop fractures as she comes up for air. The camera remains fixed on the face while the dappled background moves downwards and the hair is pulled down by the water – faster and faster -  like when a neighbouring train moves away from the station and you think that it is you that is departing - then the face finally appears to move, is moving - eyes… nose… mouth… and at last the chin hits the reflecting surface line above and disappears. The loop resumes and we are back underwater.


Louise O’Hare