Featured Artist: Virginie Maillard

Virginie Maillard 2A


“Images of an evolving past

in the context of crisis”  

Virginie Maillard


INSTITUTIONS HAVE A DUTY to be stable, noble, enduring. Or at least we might wish them to be.

An institution is a both a structure and an ideal. It might be a cathedral or a parliament or a court. It might be abstracted: the institution of marriage or of parliamentary democracy or of law. We expect the abstract structure to sustain the promise of the physical form: Sir Herbert Baker’s stately building in London’s Threadneedle Street should symbolise the sobriety and diligence we expect of the Bank of England.

© Virginie Maillard - Bank

In recent decades that sense of certainty has begun to crumble. The oracular temples of Wall Street, the sanctuary of the Roman Catholic Church, the trustworthiness of our governments have all proved to be unstable tropes. In an age of uncertainty we come to question our ideals and our institutions.

Virginie Maillard’s Anamnesis Land sets up an uneasy dialogue between the expectations associated with a given institution and the physical condition of the edifice laying claim to it. It plays on an inversion of the unsettling sense we have that the magnificent architecture of our institutions may harbour a praxis altogether less noble.

The word anamnesis describes a process of remembering. In Platonic philosophy it is the soul’s memory of the ideal form recalled when the individual is presented with the imperfect reality. In medicine it is the history of a patient’s illness. In the Eucharist it describes a prayer in memory of Christ. Things as we remember them or as we idealise them in memory.

© Virginie Maillard - Sanctuary (640)

These buildings with their neon signage proclaim an unlikely pedigree. Are they in the process of elevation to institutional status or in decay? There is a dissonance that is disconcerting. Perhaps it is simply that Virginie Maillard’s institutions are not as we would like to remember them… or perhaps they too closely mirror what we fear they have become.


Virginie Maillard lives and works in Boulogne sur Mer, France.


Anamnesis Land


Images (from the top):
© Virginie Maillard – Bank from ‘Anamnesis Land’
© Virginie Maillard – Sanctuary from ‘Anamnesis Land’


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  • The majority of the texts on this site are by Alasdair Foster and represent his opinions. However, in order to facilitate a useful diversity of views, some texts have been invited from artists and colleagues around the world, while others appear as independent comments. These opinions and comments are not necessarily those of Alasdair Foster or Cultural Development Consulting (CDC). All data and information on this site is provided on an as-is basis. While every effort is made to be as thorough as possible, neither Alasdair Foster nor CDC make representations as to accuracy, completeness, currency, suitability or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.
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