Here is another one of those "old combined with new" exhibits I missed in my recent post on that theme (Past Meets Future, August 13). In an article (L'abbaye ne fait pas le moine [The abbey doesn't make the monk], August 6) for Libération, Hervé Gauville reviews 1344, an exhibit of sculptures by Munich-born artist Konrad Loder, who has been living in Paris since 1988, when he was 31. The exhibit space is another Cistercian monastery I had never heard of, the Abbey of Notre-Dame-de-Quincy, in Commissey (a town in the Yonne region of Burgundy), built in the 12th century. The title of the exhibit, 1344, is the date of a charter created by Jeanne de Chalon, which demarcated the abbey's boundaries.
After passing a golf course and the forest, the road becomes a path going into a property lightly protected by a chain hanging at the gate. You have to ring the bell to open it or leap over the obstactle if you are impatient. That's when a charming view is revealed that promises something great. A gravel alley, a grassy plain demarcated by a stone marker, a façade pierced by high, empty windows, and huge chestnut trees encircled by countless centuries. Further along, the vehicle entrance has forgotten the carriages and carts that used to cross it. Loder has enveloped one of the side-doors of the gate with candy wrapping paper that reflects the sunlight and shakes up your assumptions. A hostelry, the abbot's residence, and a few cloister buildings are left of the monastic community. These Benedictine remains are so beautiful that the gamble of introducing some artworks into them seems above all somewhat risky. However, this is not the first time that the Centre d'art de l'Yonne has attempted this experiment. Last year, another sculptor, Vincent Barré, fixed himself on the site.The pieces are not only designed for the abbey, as Loder has also installed some sculptures outdoors. The principal sculpture is called Cheval de Troie (Trojan Horse), a sort of skeletal scaffold that is positioned so that it appears to be holding up a vaulted ceiling that looks like it might be ready to collapse. Personally, I liked the pictures of Scolopendre (not mentioned in Gauville's article), installed in the bedroom of the Prior's residence, which Loder describes as an "aleatory network" made of 2,000 pieces of iron wire, twisted together like a sort of creeping vine that climbs from the floor and curls around the wall. There is more information and a nice selection of images at Loder's Web site.
1344, an exhibit of sculptures by Konrad Loder, will be at the Abbey of Notre-Dame-de-Quincy, in Commissey, until October 18.