Aurélie Pétrel – Hexagon18

From May 30 until September 23, 2018

Vue de l'installation Aurélie Pétrel, Hexagone18 Photo : © Yannick Luthy

Hexagon18 is the result of a carte blanche granted to the French artist and photographer Aurélie Pétrel. Within the framework of this project, she took possession of the LabElysée by installing an immersive hexagonal structure. A real laboratory, Hexagone18 is a progressive installation, in constant motion, whose content becomes denser as the months go by.

Aurélie Pétrel's research is rooted in the long term and works to restore the slowness of the image creation process. The artist proposes an artistic approach in several stages and envisages his practice under the prism of the photographic score. Each source image can be replayed and redistributed according to the context of exposure, questioning the temporality of the appearance of the shot.

This research station will analyse a triangular territory - linking Geneva, Cluses and Romme - from a particular point of view, the Musée de l'Elysée. Hexagon18 takes as its starting point a field experience that the artist leads in a screw-cutting company, that is, in the manufacture of precision metal parts. To make these images, it is based on the observation of the topography and economy of the Arve valley. These shots highlight two polarities: one looks at the valley's past economic activities, watchmaking and astronomical measuring instruments. The other is interested in the geographical framework of these observations, taking into account the relief of the Arve valley.

The works exhibited in the LabElysée propose to follow the progress of the operations and conceptual research carried out by Aurélie Pétrel on these different shots. The artist is as interested in their own existence as in their possible development. In the series Décolletage (2018), the images are manipulated and modified voluntarily in order to preserve the secret of the precision of the manufactured parts. Over the course of the exhibition, these images are finally transformed into data takes, accentuating their abstract dimension and pushing them to the limit of the visible.

The various media - glass, steel, wood - are staged raw and add an immersive and physical dimension to the documentary images. Visual and conceptual structures physically superimpose reflections, transparencies and opacities. The exposed images undergo constant transformations. They appear truncated, disappeared from the picture rails, or in scale models. Aurélie Pétrel deconstructs the image as we are used to perceiving it and our vision to the test of a fragmented representation.

Aurélie Pétrel

Aurélie Pétrel is a French artist, born in Lyon in 1980 and living between Romme, Paris and Geneva. In charge of the Photography Pool at HEAD since 2012, she teaches visual arts and takes part in the development of the school's research. His photographic practice questions the status of the image, its use and the mechanism of its production. In the flood of images that assail us daily, Aurélie Pétrel positions herself as an advocate of slowness and contemplation. His work proposes to approach the image differently, as an immersive and reflective experience. His long-term research aims to bring the image back to the centre of multisensory thinking using space devices.

The shooting for Aurélie is nothing less than the starting point of a work in the making, the raw material necessary for creation. Photography only acquires the status of a work once it has been worked on and revisited plastically, both in its materiality, its support, its environment but also in its relationship with the visitor and its capacity to integrate it into the sensorial experience.

By applying successive transformation procedures to his shots, his installations, assimilated to sculptures, create games of illusion and displacement of reality. This approach aims to apprehend the photographic image according to several physical states, in the form of variations. The printing on a variety of media and the work done on the materiality of the images give rise to a work in relation to its environment: the architecture of the image is superimposed on that of the place that receives it to generate a new experience of the gaze.

Since 2001, his photographic practice has been anchored in six cities: Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris, Leipzig, Montreal and New York. Each city is considered as the space of an architectural impulse allowing to push the potentials of the image in mutation, from field surveys to the fragmented visions of the shooting in the exhibition space. A seventh point is added: Romme 130 km from Lausanne, on the other side of the lake towards the Alps.

Vue de l'installation Aurélie Pétrel, Hexagone18 Photo : © Yannick Luthy

Vue de l'installation Aurélie Pétrel, Hexagone18 Photo : © Yannick Luthy


LabElysée benefits from the generous support of the Fondation BNP Paribas Switzerland, the Loterie Romande, the Federal Office of Culture (FOC) and the Canton of Vaud.


LabElysée is the museum’s new space dedicated to digital culture. A living laboratory at the heart of the museum, LabElysée questions the way that a cultural institution dedicated to photography plays with new technologies.

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