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Interview with Guillaume Constantin

1- You were invited to realized an in situ project at the château de Gizeux as part of the residency project « Living in the place". What interest did you find in this place?

I think that the prospect of intervening in this castle interested me above all in the fact that it is semi-public, accessible to visitors and guest rooms, and at the same time a private place inhabited by a family for generations. A context that is not completely a matter of staging a place, but which is also full of memories, of memories unknown to the public but palpable in a certain way.
Another point that does not have a complete impact on my project for the château, but which links me to Gizeux, is that my grandparents are buried there, my grandfather having spent his youth in the village. This is also a question of memories, of personal memories.

2- The proposal you are making in Gizeux is organised around various fragments of objects (maps, busts, iconic portraits, etc.) that are exhibited, scattered or even hidden in different spaces. How have you thought about the organisation?

To exhibit in such a place is not so simple, between the presence of frescos, furniture, objects, how to add things becomes a real question. One of the starting points for my proposal was this gallery of recently wall paintings representing various famous 17th century castles. This small ensemble directly reminded me of a series of "sentimental maps" that I have been making since 2014 and which date from around the same time as these frescoes.
This series of maps also allows me to introduce other series of objects that I collect or make with the idea of deploying their characteristics, whether they be heads and busts from the Italian Renaissance or female portraits in the form of sweatshirts for example. Forms that are paralleled, indexed and yet familiar. These elements are scattered around the castle like decorative objects and the whole set of maps is concentrated in a dedicated space that could be both the beginning and the end of the exhibition.

3- In this place, frescoes, historical collection objects and more intimate traces of family history are mixed together. What status do your works of art have when they slip in? Do they invite us, the visitors, to construct a narrative from clues? And if so, what kind of narrative would this be?

The fragments I propose act as a cartography of traces, of curiosities among others, in forms that are sometimes decorative, sometimes more ambiguous, like a forgotten garment or a replacement head for a statue of Saint Martin. The different types of female portraits and the sentimental maps echo each other in the mystery of the portrait question and induce a hollow narrative to be completed in exactly the same way as the maps mentioned above.

4- By placing these objects in a period other than the period to which they belong, you create an anachronistic situation. But isn’t this anachronism revealed more in the artificiality of the materials used by their very subjects that echo the place?

Yes, the anachronism is indeed revealed by the fact to work with digital tools and contemporary materials which, obviously, confront the castle and all that it contains. Their artificiality is also surely due to their replica character.What interests me most about reproduction processes, whatever they may be, is that they always refer to the original that they replicate. The copy is in essence a medium for questioning, discussions and conjectures.

5-For this exhibition, you design a leaflet in the form of an index that will be given to visitors. This textual document is made up of fragments of words, just like the fragmentary pieces that inhabit the castle. What role does it play? Is it there to help with the general reading or to complete the exhibition’s purpose?

In fact, this leaflet duplicates a little the objects presented in the different spaces in a textual way, mainly by pointing out and indexing the materials, the sometimes invisible stories that they contain, from which they come or are made. This leaflet becomes a trace, a memory of this exhibition. It resembles a kind of small guide which, like these sentimental maps, transmits to us some of the ingredients of a story without solving the end of the story.