Marie-Jo Lafontaine (B. 1950)
Marie-Jo Lafontaine (B. 1950)

Les Larmes d'Acier

Details
Marie-Jo Lafontaine (B. 1950)
Les Larmes d'Acier
6-channel video and 2-channel audio installation: 27 monitors, 6 video recorders (2 replacement recorders), one computer, one amplifier, one electronic switch-box, 18 video cassettes, painted wood construction
original installation: 165.3/8 x 287.3/8 x 70.7/8in. (420 x 730 x 180cm.). The dimensions have been altered slightly for subsequent installations to accommodate lower ceiling heights.
Conceived in 1985/86 and executed in 1987, the hardware of this work has been upgraded from video to laser disk
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist in 1987.
On loan to the Museum fr Neue Kunst, ZKM/Centre for Art and Media Technology, Karlsruhe, from 1997 to 1998.
Literature
E. von Radziewsky, 'Auf der documenta 8: die belgische Knstlerin Marie-Jo Lafontaine/Die Ambivalenz der Gewalt/Im Labyrinth des Video', Die Zeit, vol.43, no.19, May 1, 1987, p. 51.
Kunstforum', vol.90, July-Sep. 1987, pp. 174-175 (illustrated in colour).
J. Brael, 'Victoria af de bedriegolijke verlakkingen', knack, vol.17, no.48, Dec. 2-8, 1987, pp. 176-185.
M. Bruinsma, 'La Femme Absente/Interview', Media-matic/European Media-Art Magazine, vol.2, no.2, 1987, pp. 79-88.
'Passio. Marie-Jo Lafontaine', Mnchengladbach 1990 (illustrated).
'Marie-Jo Lafontaine. Jeder Engel ist schrecklich', Tel Aviv 1992, p. 17 (illustrated).
H. Klotz (ed.), 'Kunst der Gegenwart. Museum fr Neue Kunst, ZKM/Zentrum fr Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe', Munich 1997, pp. 172-174 (illustrated in colour).
Exhibited
Kassel, Fridericianum, 'Documenta 8', June-Sep. 1987 (model of the installation and details of the video illustrated in the catalogue pp. 140-141).
Basel, ffentliche Kunstsammlungen Basel, Museum fr Gegenwartskunst, 'Marie-Jo Lafontaine: Les Larmes d'Acier', Feb.-April 1988 (installation, model, diagram and details from the video illustrated in the catalogue, pl. 1-6).
Copenhagen, Husets Udstilling, Oct.-Nov. 1988.
Edinburgh, Fruitmarket Gallery, March-May 1989.
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, July-Sept. 1989.

Lot Essay

Although also a renowned photographer, the Belgian artist Marie-Jo Lafontaine is most famous for her video-installations, among which 'Les Larmes d'Acier', which was first exhibited at the seminal 'Documenta 8' in Kassel in 1987, is considered by many to be her penultimate masterpiece. In its monumentality, the work discusses issues of sexuality and death, passion and violence. On 27 monitors embedded within a monumental, altar-like wall, beautiful, young athletes work out to bombastic classical music. Like religious ecstasy,extreme fitness training is about exploring and transcending one's physical limitations. In Lafontaine's installation, the metal structure of the training apparatus becomes a mechanism of torture leading to martyrdom. The cold steel of the apparatus mirrors the intense facial expression of the model and his own 'muscles of steel'. Man and machine become as one. The music, Bellini's 'Casta Diva' sung by Maria Callas, is a kind of 'mechanical ballet'. Agony is transformed into ecstasy; the climax of the music is coupled by the heightened, concentrated physical exertion of the model, culminating in an orgasmic climax of passion and the beauty of brute physical strength.
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