Valérie Mréjen, Ping-pong, cat. expo., Jeu de Paume, Paris (15 April – 15 June 2008), Paris, Allia, 2008→
Valérie Mréjen, Forêt noire, Paris, P.O.L., 2012→
Valérie Mréjen, Troisième personne, Paris, P.O.L., 2017
Valérie Mréjen, Logorrhées, Centre d’art contemporain de Normandie, 1998→
Valérie Mréjen, Ping Pong, Jeu de Paume, Paris, 15 April – 15 June 2008→
Valérie Mréjen, Portraits de famille, musée national d’Art moderne – Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris, 2012
French video and visual artist, novelist.
Among the few young mixed media artists who rose to fame in the late 90s, Valérie Mréjen has one of the most singular approaches – at once familiar and unsettling. Her work is characterised by a constant oscillation between two poles, on the one hand text and on the other image – a division that remains present within her work as a video artist. In 1994, she is graduated from the École nationale supérieure d’arts de Cergy-Pontoise. She leads a double career, for she is both a writer (Mon grand-père, 1999 ; L’Agrume, 2001 ; Forêt noire, 2012), and, since 1997, a visual and video artist. Her visual work follows a strongly narrative logic governed by the omnipresence of voices, with a predilection for the fragmented form, whether in her short or more ample works. Her film Pork and Milk (52 minutes, 2004), shows testimony, by Jews with orthodox backgrounds evoking the moment they decided to break with their religious order (the title references the Torah’s two major dietary taboos).
The visual setup she uses (reminiscent of a confessional) creates an emblematic signature effect: it is static, includes fairly tight framing, with front-facing narrators and a neutral tone achieved through tireless repetition. With the ensuing neutralisation of any spectacular effect, the artist’s repetitive vignettes gradually lose their meaning and superfluous affectivity and, in doing so, emphasise the ritual aspect and stereotypical dimension that threaten both words and images. Her films Sympa (1998) – in which a woman describes her latest night out, using the verbal tic “c’était sympa” (it was nice) ad nauseam – and Capri (2008) – in which a couple argue, using all the clichés of movie breakup scenes – illustrate both the comical and troubling aspects that underlie the extreme banality of these pseudo-documentary re-enactments.