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Would the real not exist outside of its narratives? At a time when our living space is being invaded by videos and series, realities and stories, fake news and scrolling, has storytelling become the beating heart of our lives and of world television news, while the metaverse is preparing us to become avatars?

© Aurélie Ferruel et Florentine Guédon

Such is the presupposition of the exhibition entitled, not without insolence, “True Stories,” displayed at the MAC VAL. Staging fictions taking the most diverse forms (from video to drawing through performance and tapestry), the forty or so artists gathered together create “this floating space between art and life,” the true and the false, to bring forth new “realities” to which we may or may not adhere…

© Farès Hadj-Sadokbras / “En balade”

Many artists playing in these porous passages between art and autobiography, real and fiction, deliver us intimist, even impudent accounts, which, if the implemented narrative strategies manage to “fictionalize” the real, to inoculate to the real the magic of the fiction, trigger the process of identification which will make of the spectator-seer a thinker… Because, as Frank Lamy, curator of the exhibition, explains, fiction allows us to “question the facts,” to “deconstruct, to make appear.” And, quoting one of its contributors, “Each viewer is invited to compose his own narrative, between nightmare and dream,” facing these “micro-narratives” with multiple levels of reading.

© Etienne Charry / The Photons

On the dystopian side, the duo Aletheia questions the power of words of GAFAM, the digital monopolies asserting their “word of truth” on the Internet. In the absurd register, Esther Ferrer who, during a performance activated during the Night of the Museums in 2014 transformed life stories into cacophony, prefers to annihilate the language. Absurd also, the collages of images in nested narratives designed by Hippolyte Hentgen, another duo. 

© Kenny Dunkan / NO APOLOGIES

Making social groups replay real-life situations, Alice Brygo makes the documentary film drift towards the dreamlike tale, just as Anaïs-Tohé Commaret ingeniously confuses reported stories, memories, and lived reality. At the crossroads of myth and exploration story, Aurélien Mauplot also tries to mix reality and fiction in his trompe-l’oeil compositions, making us doubt representation. Staging heterogeneous, fragmented, disproportionate bodies, Laura Bottereau & Marine Fiquet make us doubt our corporality and the integrity of our identity, in common with the creatures and other hybrids of Kenny Dunkan, seeking to “generate [his] own image and not the one that [he] has been assigned” …

© Mehryl Levisse

“The work is not a testimony on an external reality, but it is itself its own reality,” wrote Alain Robbe-Grillet in 1963 in his essay “For a New Novel.” And to add: “The function of the art is never to illustrate […] but to put in the world of the interrogations.”

© Sebastien Loghman
© Smith
© Vincent Volkart
© Virginie Barré

Stéphanie Dulout

Until September 17th
MAC VAL – Museum of Contemporary Art of Val-de-Marne
Place de la Libération, 94400 Vitry-sur-Seine