Andre Chabot


Installation artLe dortoir des anges (The Dormitory of Angels)

The Dormitory of Angels, Andre Chabot

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The Dormitory of Angels

The chapel of the old Choiseul seminary in Tournai, along with “Lille ville européenne 2004,” hosts an installation on the theme of death.

André Chabot loves life.

A hammock, angel’s clothing, a flight -- Chabot’s exhibit is on familiar terms with the ephemeral.

Unidentified flying coffins, photos of skulls housed in stalls, hammocks cradling angels, a video projecting a series of images gathered from cemeteries around the world: the universe viewed by Chabot does not conjure sadness but flight.

Installation artist, journalist, photographer and writer, Chabot has been impassioned by cities of final resting places for a long time. Thus it’s no surprise that he has crossed paths with Jacky Legge and Xavier Deflorenne, two people in charge of preserving funerary heritage. It is with them and Jean-Pierre Denefve (Galerie Koma, Mons) that he created Cent anges passent (One Hundred Angels Pass), which has just been released.

“For me, the dormitory of angels is a utopian place, because I believe in neither angels nor heaven. But one can dream: after death, we may find ourselves in good company, continuing the same work, the same passions.” On the ground, names mark the way like so many white stones: Nietzsche, Ferré, Diderot, Prévert, Sade, Diogène, Shelley, Stirner… Free-thinkers, they forged the artist’s conviction. It is their spirit that inhabits these hammocks, a little piece of the soul that doesn’t speak its name.

“I work to leave traces, to justify my presence on this earth,” confesses André Chabot.

“I would like to leave with something that relieves the terrible fear of death.” One of the altars catches the eye. It’s the canvas bed of Mathilde, a stillborn child. “It’s amazing to think that thirty years after what happened, we still talk about her,” notes the artist.

Into the chapel’s niches, the slideshow projects images of sculptures gathered in cemeteries. Skulls placed on stone, held in tender or firm hands, and these works seem to invoke something beyond life. The mystery of these places linked with the grandiose atmosphere of the chapel invites contemplation. The geometry of the lines are broken: the face of the coffins becomes air-borne. Is it the passage of time that gives them wings? “This heaven after my own heart is a garden for eternity. I enclose myself in it with those whom I like,” insists André Chabot.

“And what if the chosen and the damned weren’t those we think?” the artist asks during the walk-through. That is the question that challenges faithful believers, one way or another.

The video shows photos from the book that has just been published. The images bear witness to that which brings the living together. Every nation has its angels, those intangible messengers. Stone or marble gives them form, feelings, gesture and muscle. An interesting glossary completes the collection. The winged calligraphy of Christian Rolet gives an allegorical dimension to many headlines, expressions and words that ring as clearly as the blue sky.

Françoise Lison,
Le Courrier de L'Escaut (Belgium), March 10 2004

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