Last fall, Jane Boyd created a site-specific installation in one of the gallery-caves on the ground floor of the Dora Maar House. She titled her work Vacant Possession Portrait of a Village. The installation involved 70 mirrors and was made possible through generous support of the villagers of Ménerbes who lent their mirrors for the occasion. Jane has written about her experience of being a Brown Foundation Fellow at Dora Maar.
Absence and Presence
The fellowship offers a stimulating combination of the Dora Maar House in the exceptional small community of Ménerbes. While the studio in the house presents an extraordinary place in which to work, the local community and certain spatial qualities of locations in Ménerbes provided the vital source material for my work. Ultimately it was the support and involvement from the community, many of whom had known Dora Maar in person, that would be fundamental to the development of my project. My studio work engages with the environment to produce site-specific work and here, at Ménerbes, I was committed to making work which in some way depended on the presence of the local people and the distinction between place and space. This came together in a light-based installation sited on the ground floor of the House in a space which clearly exposes the way in which this, like many of the houses in le village perché, is built directly into the rock.
The installation entitled Vacant Possession Portrait of a Village deliberately includes the photograph of Dora Maar which is permanently sited in the ground floor window. The work is composed of around seventy mirrors each chosen and kindly lent by a person local to the small village as a response to a leaflet which I distributed throughout the community. Each mirror reflects and frames the shape and character of another caused by refracted light; their usual reflection of a person or thing is absent as each mirror becomes host to that of an unknown neighbor. This work is about transition and movement within a community and how this affects a future which is contingent on the past. A short video has been produced from photos made of the work while it was being documented which is available via this link on vimeo. In addition to the installation, I returned home with a substantial folio of drawings and digital images that in a very direct sense represents the conceptual path taken in order to arrive at the final installation.
At the start of my two months, I quickly became enthralled to working in the studio and to those places in and around the House that resist change. For example, the way the light draws its way around the robust stone walls and how it enters through the garden door to fall long and deep into the kitchen. The observation of such things was as important to my working process as the inspection of the rock surfaces and strata around the village. Yet one experience that unites every individual who has ever visited the house and looked through a window must be the wholly entrancing view of the Luberon valley precisely because it is in a constant state of change.
A selection of these works can be seen at www.janeboyd.co.uk.