October 26 - December 21, 2023

CNAP – With the support of the Centre National des Arts Plastiques

Dune Varela is an artist dedicated to photography in its dual dimension of testimony and alterable material. Playing with the intertwining of times and eras, she works with the image as if it were a ruin, a relic, caught in the movement of speculative archaeology and a history that is as much written as it is erased or fragmented.

Moving away from traditional photographic prints on the flat paper surface, Dune Varela prints or mounts them on new materials such as ceramics, aluminum, glass, concrete, and, more recently, marble. The experimentation aims to create a mise en abyme of the representation and image of symbolic, historical, and political landscapes; thus facilitating a dialogue between mediums and sources, memory and history, images and temporalities.

The grains of black and white photography play with the grooves of marble. Fragments of ancient sculptures emerge, as if endowed with a new body. These are « images of places that have been photographed many times before, which carry within them a connection to mystery, symbolism, and the beyond » explains Dune Varela, who, like these buildings — often rebuilt and destroyed — intervenes in the different layers of the image.

Dune Varela offers us a journey into the fictional future archaeology that she outlines year after year, relying on a very personal form of destruction-construction that symbolizes a vision of the human condition. « I seek to make photography into sculpture, to reappropriate the image by giving it a new body. And above all, to convey the emotion I feel when I visit an archaeological museum. By offering simple image fragments, I let the imagination of those who look at them open up, the possibility of entering into another temporality » notes the artist.

« It is the recent event, for Dune Varela, of her visit to the Carrara quarries and the resulting marble work a new, different kind of work in this territory that is more discreet and secretive than one might initially think— where she was able, for a time, to let the sculpted, destroyed, suffering, dematerialized, and then rematerialized bodies of Italian museums rest; to journey ‘higher’ and ‘upstream’ to the scattered blocks of marble, almost abandoned, on the Carrara mountain. The experience, even before asking ‘what to do,’ is to face the mountain’s reclining figures, right on the mountain’s wound —and to photograph them with a new concern for the material that precedes any representation; and in the almost clandestine survey, stolen from time and humans, of this new territory. » Julien Husson