213,85m³ - Academie Beeldende Kunsten, Maastricht
Be sure to tell them: It was just a bloody game.These are the final words of the sublime film Sleuth from 1972, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Michael Caine and Lawrence Olivier. In this film, it is the unintentional victim who has the last word. As the police approach from the outside, the mechanical marionettes that adorn the interior setting of the scene, laugh on behalf of the victim at the murderer, who is also their owner and master. The one who devised the game is unable to control it through to the very end. This scene plays in my head repeatedly upon seeing sculptures by Marie-Claire Krell. As with every artist, she creates new realities, the consequences of which are not always controllable, let alone known. Some art does not behave as art as such, yet still obeys the rules of art. The work of Marie-Claire Krell falls into this category. Her creations are not necessarily art but become art since they are one step shy of what they appear to be. The objects and figures she stages at specific locations transport us into situations in which illusion and reality battle for priority. In this way, they are analogous to a puppet show, as found in numerous cultures around the world and rooted in the spiritual and magical. Krell’s sculptures share with them a pursuit of attempting to reproduce reality, but without the objects surpassing their limited role as a scale model of life, real or dreamed. In Europe, the word “marionette” also refers to “sweet little Mary”, the dressed doll carried in processions that, because of her resemblance to the Blessed Virgin, entrances the faithful. With Krell’s work, that magic is more nightmarish in character and sometimes even frightfully resembles scenes from everyday reality. The hunter, for instance, appears as a sniper aiming at innocent bystanders. As a dripping puppet, the figure hardly seems malicious, but we unsuspecting visitors do indeed tend to be startled or surprised by it – enough to bring a smile to our faces. The unexpected continuously lies in wait for us in Krell’s work, as it does for the girl in the animated film who suddenly becomes buried under falling objects. This virtual marionette simply stands up again and endears us with the same frozen expression as before. The artist speaks to us through the figures and objects since, like her, we too are simply characters in this amazing game. We are the ones who allow ourselves to be enticed, and do so willingly. It is precisely in that game of seduction where the magic lies, shared by both art and life alike.
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