The great escape

The exhibition curator of Saint-Merry Church in Paris entrusted Djeff with the boxes filled with the remains of candles proposing him to realise a new creation. The artist had the astonishing surprise that the candles were only half-consumed. Seizing this unique material, Djeff chose to dissect it patiently, breaking each of the candles to recover the wicks and keep the wax debris. At the end of this slow process to recover the wicks, Djeff carefully knotted these remains of the wishes made by the visitors within the church into a long rope rising above the fragmented wax fleeing towards the ceiling.

At first glance, in this force of the upward movement and the symbolic potential of the object, a romantic religious image of devoted witnesses to the continuity of prayer, gratitude and hope emerges. Behind each wick, the vows assembled seem to free themselves from their waxy body and escape to the heavens in the pure tradition of ancient sacrifices when the gods were still feeding on fumes. Yet with more attention the subtle poetry of the blue wicks reminds us of a betrayal of a mercantile industry and evoke a great collective escape. Even before their full consumption, the candles are intended for the rebus, being only partially burned.

The title of the installation unequivocally repeats that of the great classic of American cinema The Great Escape (1963, John Sturges). Just as it is deceitful in its content, his story ultimately draws more to a another classic of its kind, The Grande Illusion (1937, Jean Renoir), a visionary work of the inter-war period whose dramaturgy deals with the difference between worlds and classes despite the trials. Separation of spaces and aspiration to escape theatricality existence and fragile idealism, the gesture of fracture that Djeff portrays as before Renoir, the appearance of an animated escape as many possibilities and illusions.

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