Contemporary art publications — Visual artists in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Delphine BALLEY

created February 03 2014

Excerpt from a text by Isabelle Bertolotti, 2013

Translated by John Doherty, 2014

 

Delphine Balley's universe, which initially took the form of photographic series, is above all a product of memory: personal, but also collective, or rather vernacular. Born in the foothills of the Vercors mountain range, she developed an interest in declining practices and techniques, firstly in her own region, then among people she met and places she visited. But she soon began to reinterpret these memorial elements, adding complex psychological implications of the human essence. She altered ancestral usages, for example, by adapting local traditions to her own themes. Her hallmark series The family album, begun in 2002, depicts her own (imaginary) murder during her (equally imaginary) wedding, and its consequences. And this was the starting point for a family saga that brings together reality and fantasy, real people and pure chimeras. The actors in the fable – those who are really present in the photos – are Balley's parents, or other members of her family, followed by neighbours and acquaintances, on whom she confers the attributes required by the legend she is in the process of constructing. All of them take part in a story created by Balley herself, with photos that illustrate fragments of an endlessly rewritten mythology. Inventing a "lemon picker" or a "husband mask", resuscitating a "were-wolf" or a "phantom girl-child", summoning up a nostalgic memory of bread and butter sprinkled with grated chocolate, or of embroidery, or knitting, she combines reality and fiction in a personal tale whose ramifications distance it, little by little, from the heart of the family. [...]