A point of view: Elegy, between Myth and Reality
Danaé Monseigny’s name is loaded with history. In Greek myth she is the daughter of the king of Argos, Acrisios. His death has been predicted: he is to be killed by his own grandson. Therefore he shuts up his only daughter, Danaé, in a bronze chamber. Unfortunately Zeus desires Danaé and comes to her in the form of golden rain that streams through the roof. From this union Perseus is born.
The work of Danaé Monseigny bears testimony to her interest in myth, history, dreams and nightmares. She seeks to incarnate these myths, which immerse her entirely in the etymology of her name.
Directly connected with the internment of Danaé are two separate pieces, Non dit 2013 and Temoignage 2015, both made of dark material, described by the artist as cottony and stifling hot. They are both composed of shapes that frame an opening on the invisible, a cavern, dark room or cocoon. Deni 2013 balances a four-poster bed on vertical planks above a pool of water which reminds one of the story of Danaé being impregnated by Zeus, then being set adrift at sea with the new born baby. Made of a black substance, most of her creations dating from that period are concerned with this locking up, or “golden gaol” and also with sex which accounts for the curls and folds.
For her residency at the ateliers du Château de Sacy, Danaé Monseigny has chosen the title Elegy. The artist decided upon the attic in an outhouse of the château for her project. This place, which is enclosed and barely lit, is linked to memory. Danaé Monseigny has caused a fragmented body to float there, made of shivering bits of skin, white clouds that move. She creates a world of ghosts, of shadow games that prompt the image of a corpse.
Having started with black opacity, the artist arrives at the transparency of white. She has covered a plaster cast of her sister bending down with layers of Japanese paper. She uses gold leaf to make the transparency more opaque. She has then waxed some parts with white wax in order to make the fragments more physical. This last method recalls the wax masks Romans made of their dead before putting them in a reliquary.
The translucid skin-casts are suspended, creating a body that has burst into space. These shapes multiply and float in the air, according to the breeze and the sunbeams in this enclosed space. The dust of the attic becomes visible, turning into a golden rain. The realism of the initial cast opposes the immateriality of the suspended forms where one makes out the presence of an extended index finger. The rapport with the Creation of Adam by Michelangelo is understood. Elegy evokes less the notion of the corpse she started with than that of renewal, with the soft whiteness of the work as evidence. Somewhere between myth and reality, Elegy recounts the birth and creation of the world.