Carried like Ophelia on sleeping waters...

A ghostly installation around the figure of Ophelia

In this installation, the evanescent image of Ophelia is discovered as if by magic, a surprising appearance, whose subtle contours are the result of the marriage of light and water. The public first sees only a large surface of glass, with a whole myriad of transparent drops. It is only in a second time that we discover behind the shadow cast on the wall. Each drop absorbs the light and traces a black dot on the wall. It is the set of these points that forms the frame of a photographic image, all in nuances. That of Ophélie's pale face, which looks like it's asleep.


The installation shows the image of Ophélie like a fragile specter, in black and white, on the wall. A very soft, floating appearance, between life and death, between air and water. Like undines, she refuses to accept each of our little daily renunciations, and her ghost sometimes returns to the edge of the banks...


The image obtained from the drops is not inscribed in the material, since it is only a cast shadow, and yet it is not digital either... It is a fleeting, moving image , unstable, fragile, which can be moved or doubled by playing on the light source... Each drop of the glass plate is similar to a drop of transparent water, and each drop of water carries specific information: it is by bringing together all their shadows that we can reconstitute the image of Ophelia. A ghostly and mysterious representation of this tragic Shakespearean character. Ophelia has the virginal beauty of a pure and delicate young girl who sinks into madness following the abandonment of Hamlet and the murder of her father, and dies drowned in the river. She inspired many romantic authors, including Arthur Rimbaud and his famous poem "Ophelia", who depict her as a sleeping beauty carried by dark waters.

There are many depictions of the character of Ophelia in 19th century paintings, and the photographs that still allude to her today are countless. Of course, she bears the dimensions of a tragic heroine, whose destiny expresses her unhappiness. That of a dreamy and solitary woman, misunderstood and exposed to a hostile world. The young woman, moreover, is always depicted in total symbiosis with nature. Lying on the water, Ophelia floats between sleep and death, white, sinking gently into the black waters, calm but deep. The poets Rimbaud and Appolinaire also participated in this fantasy around Ophélie, even developing a veritable “ophelization” in their writings, according to the neologism used by Gaston Bachelard in his essay on Water and Dreams. Waters that are feminine, maternal; They feed, water, purify… but we must also be wary of them. The still waters, those that carry Ophelia, kill those who merge into them and dive too deep. And only makes them once dead, become dormant bodies, too, forever...
The young girl who disappears in the prime of her life in the depths of the night, only to reappear in the form of a ghost who comes to haunt us is a recurring character in our collective imaginations... The white ladies show themselves so everywhere in the legends of Europe and North America... Ghosts haunting castles or ghost hitchhikers, supernatural entities, fairies, witches, washerwomen of the night. Our urban legends personify her as a ghost hitchhiker who, having boarded your vehicle, disappears with a cry as she approaches a dangerous passage.
In Hamlet, Ophelia is like a mermaid, a creature born in water and made to live there. After death, muddy, she will become a ghost. A ghost, very gentle, passing with the melancholy of the edges of dark rivers, in the verses of Rimbaud, a romantic character par excellence.

On the calm and black wave where the stars sleep
White Ophelia floats like a great lily,
Floats very slowly, lying in her long sails...
- We hear in the distant woods hallalis.

“The Ophelia complex”, in Water and Dreams, Essay on the Imagination of Matter, Le Livre de Poche, “Biblio Essais”, 1994 (1942), p. 95-108.