“It is not about affirming, at least not in a simple way, that the stars influence us, that they govern our lives, but rather accepting this and adding that we also influence the stars, for the Earth itself is but one star among many, and everything that lives on it (and inside it) is of an astral nature. There is nothing but sky, everywhere, and the Earth is a portion of it, a partial state of aggregation.” (Emmanuele Coccia, La Vie des plantes, Une métaphysique du mélange, Bibliothèque Rivages, 2016)
“I speak of stones that have always lain outdoors, or that sleep in their lodge and the darkness of lodes . . . They date from the planet’s beginnings, sometimes having come from another star. They then bear the twisting of space upon them like a scar from their terrible fall. They are from before humanity; and humans, when they arrived, did not mark them with their art or industry. Humans did not manufacture them, crafting them for some trivial, luxurious or historic use. They carry on nothing but their own memory.” (Roger Caillois, Pierres, 1966)
“If there’s a bright centre to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.” (Luke Skywalker to C3PO, Star Wars, 1977)
Everything in Cécile Beau’s work revolves around the idea of revelation, in all the senses of the word. Not only unveiling – the act of making it possible to see or hear phenomena that escape our immediate perception – but also epiphany and illumination. For Cécile Beau does not approach reality such as it appears to us, but such as it is in itself, in the beating heart of the matter, through its sedimentary strata and sublayers – a fragmented, inorganic and exogenous reality. Created with a sense of economy similar to that of Arte Povera, but with a sensitivity heightened by a perception extending beyond the bounds of the world and the self, her installations are most often composed of very simple materials and anti-spectacular set-ups. They invariably address topics such as encoding and decoding, alchemical formulas and quantum physics, cosmology and archaeology. Accretions and sediments, dark matter and cosmic background noise are extracted from a physical reality at the threshold of discernment.
With astrophysics as its running theme, the exhibition – whose title is a nod to prehistory – strives to explore the transitory state of mineral elements, from their cosmic origin (meteorites) to their transformation into geological sediment (rocks, stones, pebbles, sand and dust) before they are appropriated by humans as a raw material. Refusing to choose between metaphysical vertigo, poetic allegory and scientific rationality, Cécile Beau presents us with a form of phenomenological science fiction.