Bertrand Gadenne

Butterflies, Eyes and Fish

1988, 2023

07 April 18 June 2023

For the last five decades, the plastic artist Bertrand Gadenne has explored photography in various forms, especially projection, in his creations. Inspired by our natural environment, his work invites us to reconsider our relationship with the world.

Les Papillons (Butterflies) offers a tactile experience of photography. Bertrand Gadenne departs from the traditional uses of slide projection by positioning the projector vertically, at a certain height. Viewers are invited to intercept the beam of light with their hands, using them as a screen on which the image, invisible on the ground, is revealed. As they move, the butterflies appear to come alive. By combining these insects, which represent the soul and the ephemeral, with the tangible nature of projected light, this poetic work evokes the fragile miracle of the visible spectrum and the fleetingness of time.

Bertrand Gadenne has used video projection to explore this phenomenon of apparitions in public places since 1990. His “intrusive” installations of animated images are custom designed to fit each location and its architecture in order to transform them into nocturnal theatres for the fantastical and the unfamiliar. The Institut’s main courtyard comes to life: as a building looks on, the façade of the historic mansion transforms into an aquarium. While these works serve to bring the animal world into urban spaces, their ambivalence invites reflection: no longer mere observers, we are also observed in return.