In French, the term ‘fantôme’ refers to the models used during a hanging to determine the position of the works without having to manipulate them. They reproduce as precisely as possible the volume of the works in order to simulate their presence in space. For this installation, Noé Soulier created ten ‘fantômes’ from works in the SMAK collection. Although they are not real works, the ‘fantômes’ are not everyday objects either. They exist in an intermediate state where the simple fact of treating them as works is enough to give them a particular aura.
These ‘fantômes’ were created to show their own installation process during regular performances in the exhibition space. The hybrid status of the ‘fantômes’ makes it possible to question the boundary between the everyday object, the stage prop and the work of art. This questioning is replayed in the gestures of the performers. When they set up the ‘fantômes’, they perform practical movements – screwing, carrying, positioning, adjusting, etc. – that are not only practical, but these practical gestures are also scenic gestures observed by an audience. They aim at both the event they allow the audience to observe and at their consequences on the physical objects.
By intersecting these different problematics, ‘fantômes’ question the limits of art at the level of objects as well as human actions. They reveal the conventional and potentially fragile nature of what is recognized as belonging to the field of art and make perceptible what crystallizes this convention: the value we attribute to things and acts. The value of works lies in the way one behaves with them, and it is enough to protect an object, to treat it as something precious, to momentarily confer this value on it. In addition to this, the diverse ways in which the ‘fantômes are installed en deinstalled reveal the impact a work of art has on the gallery space and vice versa.