Altered States
Laurent P. Berger and Cyrille Berger

From October 7th to November 24th 2011
Opening: October 7th from 4-11 pm.

The world: this idea which never ebbs away: that lives through a face, a memory, a tree or a city; a world in which appearance is never set apart from essence. An orderless order that reconnects us in constantly different ways to the sensible. This world that is never entirely known because, by definition, it cannot be, even when we think we have journeyed right to the very ends of it. It is impossible to exhaust all the aspects of a window, an animal, a stone, and their representations... The world, this unknown world that fascinates, threatens and produces us insofar as even all that exceeds us already structures us or will consolidate us barely an instant later. This world, and no other, that is never finished, whose delicate weave of details and distances makes it perpetually in flux, this world that is constantly undergoing transformation. Now attuned, fugitively, to our visions, now to our imagination. With its havens of peace and its dizzying brutalities, its irregular contours, its mysteries, its hiatuses, its flashes, its slowing down and accelerations. This world that is never sufficiently written, painted or represented, whose particularity we experience, and attune ourselves to, but which most often advances unmindful of our passage.

Laurent and Cyrille Berger are constantly taking this world on: all their works claim to attend to its liveliness, to its energies and, for this reason, to be in flux; entangled in the relationships they lay bare, to its changes and metamorphoses. All their works are rooted in its surprises. They all resist or give into that which constitutes it; they all participate in a singular excitement — that of emergence and disappearance, two inspiring leitmotivs; they all experiment on its conditions, rhythms, forms and variations — and expand it, moreover. Does this all come about unintentionally at first for Berger&Berger? Perhaps. But starting to make a piece is often, for them, about feeling the pulse of an accidental certainty: everything alters on coming into the world. And this arrival contains something essential that is addressed to us. Berger&Berger point up the world's balance without balance, its fragile subsistence, leaving way for otherness, the link between nothingness and things.

Detailed revelations of moments of crisis, their works set out to boldly identify the deepest internal contradictions, according to modes of experience and observation placed in the service of the point of uncertainty, where a rebirth of the world itself takes shape. In this way, an identity of things, different from the one we know, emerges.

Positioned as both prey and hunter, those who visit their spaces are exposed to the networks and secrets of a world they gradually become aware of: all that remains is the necessity — its vanity accepted — of weaving together connections, of letting the spatial and artistic propositions resonate in some way other than pure contemplation. Berger&Berger seem to tell us that what occupies a space not only propagates within us but undergoes change thanks to our entering the game.

Berger&Berger succeed insofar as they are committed to not concealing the brutal innocence of all existing things, an inexhaustible vital instinct. The history of matter-forms then gradually appears in a different light, as unending and irreversible. The world is grasped while it undergoes change within a process of stabilisation. This is why their works draw us into life.

A wooden floor (Parquet Vassivière, 2011), made from tree stumps that lay for a long time at the bottom of the lac de Vassivière (an artificial lake made in 1950), able, therefore, to stir up myriad memories, lived experiences and slight shifts from the depths of an imagined lake. A map (Ghost Towns, 2009) "with no function or use", that indexes ghost towns, temporarily or permanently abandoned sites, a map that merely indicates, almost furtively, intermittently, a wandering fate. A forest of steel pillars (Vanishing Point) whose meaning exceeds its geometrical nature, a presence that defies all limits (interior, exterior, nature, technique...), that is natural yet ambiguous in the middle of an apartment. A host of images that stress the limit-experience of perspective, reaching its crisis, drawing the gaze towards the threat of absolute loss.

Regardless of the risks involved, Berger&Berger attempt to leave open the matter-form to the point of admitting erroneous perceptions (for they might also involve true ones): left/right and top/bottom are reversed (Untitled (André Le Nôtre), 2011). Experimentation permeates their work as artists, architects, designers and stage designers.

But their creations, and their endeavour to question the different points of view lead them to examine, albeit from a distance, with precaution and discretion, the convergences and concordances between the presence of art and the presence of the world. To study, indeed passionately, the anachronisms and incongruities — with an approach closely resembling Italian artists such as Branzi, Sottass, Colombo —, to develop the random necessities that all works entail, and to gradually let out the feeling that everything overflows.

An acquired, purely acquired element of knowledge, that stems from the fact that nothing is more mobile than that which stays in place. A simple and timeless acknowledgment: everything undergoes change, everything adjusts, everything is in flux.

Drawing, for instance, is immediately taken as matter, a material for emergence ("Sans titre (Point naissant)" series, 2011)... The stage in turn invokes, as with Zeami, its absence. Representation turns out to be modification. The identification of a space is merely the creation of other intervals. All surfaces are a manipulation of possibilities, a procedure which, in most of the pieces, goes hand in hand with a yet more disconcerting discovery: if the subject intervenes, she no longer has the function of finishing the world in the world but of expanding it.

Beger&Berger have thus long gone beyond the boundaries between "art", "design", "architecture and "scenography", convinced that something essential emerges at the edge of their difficulties, within art, at the point at which each discipline looses and finds its identity.

For Berger&Berger, occasioning these perceptions in public spaces, and even more so in an intimate space such as Rosascape, means honouring a non-hierarchical idea of the arts, to be able, through the subtlety and force of art, to make the world and its insomnia our primary impression once again. Berger&Berger seize the ties that exist between us and things and between things themselves in order to give them back to us, caught up in the excess of that which is.

Federico Nicolao