Nina Laisné



            FR  EN ES

    La Tarara, 2017
Engraving on old paper after Gustave Doré, 33,5 x 25 cm © Nina Laisné

       Romances Incierto, un autre Olrando, 2017. Show by François Chaignaud and Nina Laisné, 70 min.
Photo : © Nina Laisné

Artistes de la Casa de Velázquez. Académie de France à Madrid 2017
164 pages, 22 x 22 cm
ISBN 9788490961896

The Artist’s Website
Nina Laisné

Look at the Shows
Coplas Populares — ¡ Adentro !
Ceux qui nous lient
L’espace des possibles
No Shooting in this Area
Nina Laisné has, for several years, been developing a singular universe in which the image occupies a key place. Whether it be in her photographs or in her filmed works, the artist does not confine herself to one visual language. Within her meticulously constructed work, latency and time for contemplation take on their full meaning.
In her early photographs, Les Heures (2008-2010), even more than the actors, whom he directs with precision, and the minutely drawn decors, what interests the artist is the moment of grace, the suspended instant, this interstice marked with uncertainty. Already we see here the beacons of her work to come.
The artist’s works with their distinct strangeness, are embodied and unfold in dialogue with other mediums such as cinema and music as well as through historical and sociological elements, art, popular traditions, fashion, cabaret and opera. Her eclectic artistic research, consisting of this more or less visible back-and-forth between mediums and sources, along with the importance of the Hispanic culture, makes Laisné’s work a wonderfully rich ensemble that defies traditional labels.
As a musician and cinephile, the artist builds her visual universe with the vocabulary of both the seventh art and the performing arts, creating dialogues with sound rather than with words. Os convidados (2010) is one example of this: a still image, illuminated, on a box, from which the singing of a magnificent man of color emanates. He is standing, facing a table of perplexed and solemn guests. It is with this work that Nina Laisné first eludes frontiers. Not just a photograph, not altogether an installation, and not yet a film, Os convidados crystallizes this slipping from one genre into another, from proletarian reality to fiction. It is a precursor to future projects that will play with this interpenetration between genres such as Folk Songs (2014) and Marisol/Mariluz (2015).

The film En présence (piedad silenciosa), from 2013, is also a pivotal point in her work. We recognize a certain slowness, in which there is a growing double confusion: the first, eminently manifest, is the androgynous voice of the first character; the second is the ambiguous sexuality of the other character. This man’s singing unsettles the woman, whose strikingly enigmatic persona remains impalpable. The lyrics – as is often the case in Nina Laisné’s creations – accentuate this impression and propose another narrative. In fact, La embarazada del viento is a traditional Venuzuelan song which evokes the immaculate conception. We observe, as the words of the song are pronounced, the attitude of the woman change, and a tormented emotion invade her.

In the video installation Esas lágrimas son pocas (2015), the artist takes inspiration from a trend in the 1960s throughout Hispanic countries in which children are seen as the new icons, as in the case of Quetcy Alma, baptized La Lloroncita (the little weeper), whose success lay in her incredible ability to cry on command. In line with this tradition, Nina Laisné proposes to three children from immigrant families to sing two traditional songs of their choice from their countries of origin. The first song is filmed spontaneously during the auditions whereas the second is staged. Enveloped in Technicolor-like lighting, the children are made up and dressed in clothes of another era. They then become representatives of a traditional culture that they barely know. The mirror set-up –each child faces his/her own image and can hear his/herself singing – reinforces the artificiality of the feelings acted out and felt.

The perpetual search for iconographies, for texts, music and obscure characters is a constant in the artist’s work. This body of documents conjures up figures that can be found directly or implicitly in several of his works as in the case of La Tarara, the gypsy of Spanish oral tradition, whose history has evolved through the centuries and throughout different countries. In the context of her residency at the Casa de Velázquez, Nina Laisné’s starting point was the engraving by Gustave Doré in which a gypsy is seen accompanying an old man who can barely walk. She took the engraving and subtly modified it, giving the woman some virile features: feet that are too big, a very square jawline, and a lot of body hair… We recognize La Tarara along with other ambiguous figures in Romances inciertos, un autre Orlando, a creation springing from the artist’s encounter with dancer and choreographer François Chaignaud. During the performance, the character – with a touching duality – evolves through words, songs and music of diverse origins. He is the woman soldier, Doncella guerrera, obliged to hide her true sex to go to battle, determined never to expose her secret, convinced as she is, of her masculine identity. He is also Tarara loca, the mystical gypsy who sleeps with the statue of a saint and dances sensually on the village square to seduce the men.

This staged form brings together all of Nina Laisné’s major and continuing preoccupations such as the question of doubles and ellipses. It is also the form in which androgyny and ambivalence are affirmed most openly. Like the instructions that Argentinian musicians shout to the dancers, it could be the ¡Giro final! — the last round at the ball — but only until the next dance begins.

— Émilie Flory
Madrid, February 2017

Translation by Patricia Chen


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