Agnès Violeau - "Let there be light"

Nathalie Junod-Ponsard, or poetic bedazzlement

Light has always been one of the major preoccupations of art. It is the instrument of visibility, and the necessary condition for things to appear in the world. For Nathalie Junod Ponsard, it is the raw material for the construction of the artwork.

Her installations, designed with the characteristics and particular concrete conditions of their mode of exhibition in mind, are based on the premise put forward by the disciples of « Light and Space » regarding the integration of light into a chosen space. Nathalie Junod Ponsard places the viewer in a hypnotic state, a new physical and emotional experience, a form of transient homeostasis resulting from a journey made by the eye and the body, immersed in the substance of light «in action and in situation».

When we walk through the grounds of Maison Neyrand we sense from a distance that something has taken place. The windows are dazzling. The constraint imposed on the artist was to design a work that would only be visible from the outside. Looking at Nathalie Junod Ponsard’s work would be akin to working ourselves: as our eye moved across it, we would discover a particular sensation. We would experience the kind of dizziness people feel when looking at waterfalls or the sails of a windmill; we would be dragged inside the closed house even though we are outside, and we would see flashes of light in the night. The body would become the object of an experiment. By alternately causing a sense of bedazzlement, floating, and then dizziness, Nathalie Junod Ponsard elaborates a colourful, luminous narrative by changing our retinal vision in various ways. By transforming our perception of space, the work generates a succession of images, from exophoric flashes to phosphenes scattering themselves across the park before vanishing.

The Maison Neyrand project takes the form of a painterly space divided into several areas, each with its own chromatic system. Effects of volume and density caused by light and colour modify the spatio- temporal data. The context (the rooms of the house) defines the framework for the pictorial zones.

Junod Ponsard has decided to reverse the usual relationship between objects and lighting. Light is no longer an instrument, but a subject in its own right. Colour is added to this light for its biological qualities (Pharmakon in Greek) and the way it influences mood by tensive valencies specific to certain colours: indigo combined with its complementary colour orange brings a feeling of dizziness and reverses volumetric effects, while magenta combined with green makes viewers lose their balance. Subdued, violent or hypnotic colour plunges us helplessly into different states: proximity, soaring, attraction, starkness, remoteness, weakness. The viewer’s body and mind are given an unsettling experience that involves a relationship that is endogenic with respect to physical being in the world.

Nathalie Junod Ponsard’s works can be seen not only as symbols of the exposure of the world to our perception and « intellection » (Barthes), but also as signs, hypnotic indices pointing to something unique to the space where they are exhibited. As the artist’s investigations are rooted in questions relating to the artwork, its context, and its usages, we might say that its phosphenic mixing seems to abolish the frontier between interior and exterior, reality and fiction. It offers the body the impossible opportunity to move through the wall, shifting it towards the imaginal realm of light.

We then see that the one-to-one relationship between the exhibition space and the artwork can give rise to new propagations.

Agnès Violeau, December 2006.