James Casebere

Rendez-vous de Bellevue (After Lequeu), 1991

With this work James Casebere referred explicitly to a project by Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1757-1826). The Rendezvous de Bellevue est à la pointe du rocher which the utopian architect designed is a combination of eclectic architectural features, a method which changed the principles of neo-classical theory. The unusual incorporation of the building in space, the markedly theatrical lighting, and the presence of apertures and oculi with surprising shapes all plunge us into a fantastic world which, for the Enlightenment architect, seeks to produce powerful sensations in the spectator’s soul. In addition, the comments in the margins of the drawing very much part and parcel of Lequeu’s production, emphasize the scientific instruments which be it close up or far away, permit observation (he in fact notes the words “microscope”, “telescope”, and “spyglass”). James Casebere transposed this Lequeu drawing into a structure made of foam rubber and simple materials. He stepped up the details (the presence of the façade) and strayed away from them by getting rid of certain features such as the handwritten inscriptions of the original drawing, optical instruments, the landscape in the background, and one or two openings. He nevertheless stressed the dramatic lighting, lending this “view” an even more enigmatic character. “Once the model is made, I invariably include in it a form of action, for example, by opening a window, playing with the shadows, or suggesting an activity. Then I photograph the whole thing”, explains the artist. So James Casebere’s work does not consist in reproducing but in interpreting original documents. The choice of viewpoint, the chiaroscuro, the presence of shadows, and the large format edition subsequently turn these empty places into ambiguous spaces.

Nadine Labedade

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