Mais où est l’infrastructure?

Nicholas Vargelis
20.10.02 → 20.12.18

Curated by Sylvie Boulanger and Marie-Laure Lapeyrère, ‘But Where Is the Infrastructure?’ is an exhibition by Nicholas Vargelis, at the invitation of the Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers. The exhibition is currently closed but will be extended until Friday, December 18, 2020.

The exhibition is extended until Friday, December 18.

Through the use of rails and lighting fixtures, ‘But Where Is the Infrastructure?’ is a performative work nested within the amateur cabinet ‘I Rearranged the Collection.’ Using simple materials from French and American hardware stores, Nicholas Vargelis constructs display rails that make the usually concealed infrastructure of the building visible. He plays with the exhibition’s architecture. Nicholas Vargelis resides in Aubervilliers and New York City. The concept of infrastructure is paramount in his approach. Common objects found in all types of habitats, networks, lighting systems, and techniques fascinate him. Rails, lamps, circuits, buttons, wires, bulbs—they are everyday mundane objects found in every household, yet their aesthetics evolve with norms, rules, and cultures, often unbeknownst to us. Ultimately, social organizations underlie technological forms.

Performance Text:

For the exhibition’s opening, Nicholas Vargelis presented a performance, the text of which is excerpted from Light on the subject: stage lighting for directors and actors – and the rest of us, by David Hays (French translation by Damien Airault):

Lighting devices can be roughly divided between those used to light actors and those used to color the stage or contribute to staging effects. Many devices in one category work well for the other; there is no clear distinction.

‘Lamp’ is our password for ‘bulb.’ You are already accustomed to its three main components. ‘The bulb’ refers only to the glass part—the globe-shaped (or pear-shaped) or even tubular glass envelope. Inside is the second component: the filament. Each of these parts is attached to a third: the base. Today, there are new types of stage lighting called quartz or tungsten-halogen.

“The smaller the filament, the more precisely the reflector can redirect its light. For the best result, the filament must be perfectly aligned with the reflector. This is why ordinary screw bases are rarely used. Indeed, the glass bulb can melt if it is not at the right distance from the incandescent filament.

“The reflector lamp is another element in our arsenal. These lamps are coated, on part of the bulb and inside, with a reflective surface in a permanent and harmonious relationship with the filament. When ordering a reflector lamp, you must decide in advance the path of the light ray, and some very practical models emit an oval beam. Some even have tinted glass.

“We now know the basic devices—let’s plug them in. It is a simple, easy operation, comparable to plugging in a lamp or toaster at home. The problem is a baroque lexicon of technical terms, but it remains a part of the pleasure in our orgy of misunderstandings.

“A modern theater, like a house, is full of power outlets, useful for the lamps you want to plug in. These outlets have names, which most of the time describe their locations. Ceiling Cove, Balcony Front, Box Right, First Floor Pocket Left, or First Electric are mundane appellations. At each location, in addition to wiring, there will probably be several outlets, and they will be numbered.

“For opera or ballet, lighting is mostly built from color sheets that come from the front, top, and sides. But in a staging, one cannot escape the idea of zones. We usually start with particular zones, and then create sheets and effects.

“Light is made up of three primary colors, like in painting, but they are different. It’s theoretical and rarely works perfectly. Yellow is a component of red and green—other colors cancel it out.”

{Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, 41 rue Lécuyer, 93300 Aubervilliers.}

{Les Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers} {Préfecture à l’égalité des chances} {Ministère de la Culture} {Région Île-de-France} {Département de la Seine-Saint-Denis} {Ville de Pantin}