The new urban project of Quentin Carnaille’s is an installation that appropriates a sculpture brimming with history: France’s Statue of the Republic by Léopold Morice.
This installation is a continuation of the themes explored in the installation Identity, unveiled during the European Heritage Days in September 2017, in which, for the duration of three weeks, fourteen mirrored cubes covered the faces of landmark statues around the city of Lille. By transforming academic, traditionally figurative statues into modern sculptures, Quentin Carnaille questioned the public and its relationship to the other while also rediscovering the cultural heritage of their city.
In Unity, the artist reiterates this proposition by re-imagining this statue so emblematic of the French Republic, a symbol par excellence of the French identity. By covering this statue with mirrored cubes, Carnaille challenges the viewer to examine their own values as well as the values of France.
Thus, Unity sheds light on the work of sculptor Léopold Morice in an age in which the grandiose effects of majestic statuary has been lost.
Yet the statue at the Place de la Républic is a central point in the capital and the life of the city. It is at its feet that the French find themselves every time the nation has faced great challenges where they come together in the defense of their rights. By making the Statue of the Républic the venue for his installation “Unity”, Quentin Carnaille seizes the symbols conveyed by it.
A glance at the top of the monument invites the viewer to consider Marianne, the symbol of the French Republic. A little lower, attention falls on three statues that represent the French republic: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” Each sculpture’s hair is covered with a twoway mirrored cube with one of the sides equipped with LED lights.
During the day, the viewer can contemplate their own reflection in the cubes while seeing different statues in the building. Through this game of mirrors, the individual is evoked and acts as a replacement for the values of the Republic. At first, “liberty” brings to mind individuality, a unique and singular character. Then one is led to the question of one’s rights and those of others through “Equality.” And finally one reaches the last element of the nation’s motto, “Fraternity,” where the ego defining “me” spreads to several others who come together as “we” in which a new unity is created.