Solo exhibition
Verwalterhaus – Kulturkapellen, Berlin, Germany. August 17 – September 3, 2023
Exhibition design : Emilie Cognard
Photos : Gianmarco Bresadola

Sometimes we lack the right words to say, sometimes they are superfluous and when finally we do manage to utter them, often that’s when nobody hears them. There are so many words we can’t say that we just leave hanging there unsaid. Whether it is in her artwork on paper or in her installations, Emilie Cognard has offen worked in those grey areas which lie somewhere between screaming out loud and silence. How can the indescribable be formulated? How can form be given to what is so fleeting and ephemeral?

Working as she always does by starting with the history of a place, the artist explores for her own personal exhibition at the Verwalterhaus the themes of disappearance and our difficulties in coming to terms with the experience of emptyness that this brings. Here the separation is absolute and the words which resonate are those which confirm and acknowledge the irreparable loss, those words which are carved in stone in an attempt to tell the story of a life that spanned between two dates, the words we mangle in a vain effort to give comfort.
They are the words we use to hide grief and to try to give some kind of an agreable form to pain and sorrow. The words which gush out amongst the sobbing and that in the depths of heart and body tear dark somber scars.

Taken as a metaphor of this deep inner consciousness, the former lodging of the cemetery caretaker has become for the artist the echo chamber for an emotional and poetic repossession, which is used just as much as a prop as a kind of living matter for new experimentation. Once inside, you discover works, created in the studio that are based on the writings of Maurice Maeterlinck, which notably evoke our relationship with time and void, (Le Silence); other works are derived from the obituary pages in newspapers (Qui précède la page météo et jeux); two large formats, which are like enormous gashes created in ink on wood (Graphein) : the series Ligne has been created specifically for this exhibition using words copied from inscriptions Carved on gravestones in the cemetery. Elsewhere the markes left by a demolished partitioning wall have provided Emilie Cognard the inspiration to create an oriqinal installation that plays symbolically with the function of an opening and a ‘going through’ represented by a door that no longer exists. On the landing of the stairs leading up to the floor above, a mark on the floor imposes itself by its presence, it resembles a scar that the artist has used and reinforced. Going further along, in a room left empty, there are the remains of various old notices stuck on the walls, with lines drawn carefully around them as well as joining them together, that have been endlessly reread and which continue to haunt the walls in their new form.

So by going from one room to another, the work of Emilie Cognard weaves anew the links that unite us with the past. More than that, she invites us to reconcile ourselves with the past, together with its pain and its hopes in order to find the words which we lack, or at least the means of giving form to what is so fleeting and ephemeral.

Thibault Bissirier, July 2023
traducted by : Franc Bell

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