Cassagnau Pascale (ed.), Martine Aballéa : roman partiel, Paris, Semiose, 2009→
Martine Aballéa, Le Musée des amours, Paris, Dilecta, 2018
Hôtel passager, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 22 April – 19 September 1999→
Fun House, Centre national de la photographie, Paris, 2002
La Maison sans fin, CRAC Languedoc-Roussillon, Sète, 2012
French and American mixed media artist.
“I like things that exist ‘more or less’.” This statement from Martine Aballéa defines not only her aesthetic approach, but also and to a greater extent her high standards and the specific way she sees the world. M. Aballéa has lived in Paris since 1973 and is a trained physicist, which explains her taste for the inherently imaginative nature of scientific theories. An artist who focuses on what is “plausible”, she creates pieces that lie on the fringes of fiction and reality, on the fine line between artwork and product, between natural and artificial. Her art is an art of contagion and mutation, like the half-vegetable, half-mineral, concrete-eating luminous mushroom that she exhibited hanging from the ceiling of the musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1983. The objects, images, and texts she has presented since 1976 all carry signs of this precariousness. They exist in a transitional and uncertain sphere, thus abolishing any possibility for pigeonholing, while also aspiring to prompt feelings based on more than aesthetic delectation. Her visual propositions often suggest possible uses, in the manner of sales hooks for potential objects of consumption.
In 1998, the Magasin fantôme [Ghost Shop] she exhibited at the Centre d’art du Parvis in Tarbes acted as a “double” of the real shopping centre that housed the exhibition venue. M. Aballéa has been known to mix imaginary advertisements (“Produit profond indispensable” [Vital Deep product]; “Sirop de roche transparent” [Transparent Rock Syrup]) with the actual promotion of a pale purple drink fancifully named Special Night Rain. Some of the canned goods meticulously stacked on tables remain empty (“Bonbons marinés” [Marinated Sweets]; “Sel de tempête” [Tempest Salt]; “Mousses au sirop” [Mousses in Syrup]), while others can be sampled (“Pommade du crépuscule” [Dusk Lotion]; “Merveilleuse crème verte” [Wonderful Green Cream]; “Onguent élémentaire” [Elemental Ointment]), or even become the object of an actual demonstration, like the “Bouillie brillante” [Shiny Mash], the effect of which can be observed on a sponge in a display window. In 1999, her Hôtel passager [Temporary Hotel] at the musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris consisted of a fake hotel in which all the elements (the rooms, the reception desk, the bar) were balanced ambiguously between reality and fantasy.