Isabelle Cornaro (born 1974) uses objects to compose strange landscapes that play tricks on our eyes. In her Savannah Surrounding Bangui & the Utubangui River, jewels are scattered on a plank of light-coloured wood. A chain defines the river; ear-rings suggest the animals who come and drink in it. The surrounding brown of the wood is like sun-scorched grasslands stretching into infinity.
Her series of Landscapes with Poussin & Eye-Witnesses is more sculptural. Various objects are arranged to form compositions, extending the depth of field: Oriental carpets (rolled up, spread out on the floor, or up against the wall); Chinese-style vases; a metronome… There are three categories of object – measuring and optical instruments, and from nature – placed on plywood plinths according to size, from the largest to the smallest, so that traditional rules of perspective, with objects shown in ascending order of size in the interests of harmony, appear inverted. These works look to Poussin’s late landscapes – notably his Landscape with Man Killed by a Snake, where a secondary figure, or ‘eye-witness’, is used to convey the horror of what he is seeing. More prosaically, the term ‘eye-witness’ also evokes the optical instruments in the installation. The eye-witnesses may also refer to Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass, another complex optical machine. […]