By way of sculptures and sound and light installations, Cécile Beau constructs a minimal and sensory oeuvre which uses nature as an object of study and contemplation. The artist introduces plants and minerals, which she mixes with a whole illusionist machinery to re-create specific physical phenomena. These latter are “activated” within complex ecosystems taking the shape of often austere and enigmatic landscapes. In 2009, White Rabbit (made with Bertrand Rigaux) had the roots of a tree emerging from the ceiling, contaminating the space until—as in Lewis Carroll’s book—all notion of scale, place and time was lost. In 2012, the installation, C=1/√ρχ, halfway between architectural maquette and sound sculpture, was presented like a “miniature refinery” made up of chemical glassware assembled on a table, with random acoustic flows passing through the pieces. Suma (2010) offered the striking vision of a miniaturized forest where the trees, stones and lichen also have sounds passing through them. Cécile Beau thus experiments with ways of “distorting” reality, giving rise to confusion and questioning in the visitor. Her recent installations push the exploration of an imperceptible and inaccessible part of the world to the extreme: Radiographie (2013) consists in a decametric antenna capable of capturing and then re-creating the electromagnetic waves emitted by asteroids and other bodies gravitating in space; Specimen (2012-2013) presents a series of glass cubes containing submarine rock and plant formations in an opaque liquid, while Sol (2012) suggests cartographic views of remote planets, through the imprint and fragments of mineral matter.
Born in Lourdes in 1978, Cécile Beau, who lives and works in Paris, graduated from the Tarbes School of Fine Arts in 2001, then from Marseille (2003), and then from Le Fresnoy—the National Studio of Contemporary Arts in Tourcoing—in 2008. In 2012 she received the Prix Découverte des Amis du Palais de Tokyo for the exhibition Subfaciem, and organized the exhibition Aoriste at the Municipal School of Fine Arts in Châteauroux. Since then, she has taken part in various group shows, including Derashine (Marseille, 2013), Etrange Nature (Pavillon Blanc in Colomiers, 2014), and Double Jeu (Turbulences – FRAC Centre, spring 2014).