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Chapter 5


Nicolas Bourthoumieux
& Aine McBride 


21 May 2021
Coined by Sigmund Freud in 1919, the theory of Unheimlichkeit -the UNCANNY- points out how fear, horror and mystery tend to appear within the most familiar environments. Spanning indoor and outdoor a modernist domestic space, the works of Áine McBride and Nicolas Bourthoumieux invite us to look differently at ubiquitous objects or random materials, redefining the tension between reality and its perception.

Actively engaging with the peculiar architecture of the house, the artists pursue an alienation of the theatrical role of architecture in staging domesticity.

Text co-written by Claire Contamine and Jêrome Nicod.




Áine McBride

Set on the grounds and soil of 10N, Áine McBride`s sculptures summon a feeling of liminality. The status of the materials they put together seem transitional, difficult to define. Responsive to the site, their works expose the relationship between building, materials and architecture, mirroring the means of its construction. The raw sculptural accumulations of plywood, concrete, and tiles echo the existing materials of the house that one does not even notice anymore. As Chris Fite-Wassilak wrote about their work: “The installations are accumulations of noticed un-noticing, the accentuating of the ultraordinary.“1

By evoking their surrounding environment rather than standing as self-referenced objects, they create an unfamiliar dimension in this domestic space. Their agency in the space calls out to other realities, one of the modern city, its ruins, places in between at the threshold of something. “The peculiar combination of elements that feel inherent and alien, for lack of better words, quietly dislocates where the shaping of space takes place, unhinges its immediate relationship to that place. McBride’s installations are always attuned to the edges that constitute and enable space itself, that, while calling attention to the materialities of the room in which its found, also seem to efface the particularities of the building in which they’re installed.”

Made during a week of residency in 10N, Áine McBride’s works can be split in two groups: two sculptures note-Amour and t.taste, and experimental installations reflecting on their research about this peculiar house. The photos on the table, the bookshelf, the glazed roof tiles and the slab arrangement in the garden are prototypes of sorts that embody as well the transitionary, the potentiality of future works. But most importantly, with these artistic gestures, they uncannily come back to the primary state of the house that they visited for the first time six months ago: its domesticity.

1 Exerpt of "Chris Fite-Wassilak", Inverse Amnesia, text commissioned by FLACC Genk, 2020


Nicolas Bourthoumieux

In his practice, Nicolas Bourthoumieux subtly materializes his astonishment of the world, nourished by essential serendipity. At 10N, his poetic gestures occupy the space, refusing a negotiation with the architecture. This ensemble of works commonly reveals the strange, invisible transformation time may confer on things. Often recycling his own artworks, he sees objects as carrying a temporal charge from which ghosts may (re)appear. In his series of Embus, he plays with the painterly phenomenon of fading, by which the oil is absorbed by the canvas, eliminating all shiny aspects of the matter. With this process, the thickness of the layers fosters the arising of remnants from the underlayers, granting it a sculptural autonomous presence.

The finish of his paintings and sculptures are explicitly rough, revealing the uncanny friction of processes, matters and materials. But rather relating to the freudian definition of uncanny - something familiar yet alien - Nicolas Bourthoumieux also highlights essential physical truths that could defy the acknowledged logic. In the basement, the linear steel sculpture Ici metaphorically sets a vertical here and now on an imaginary linear timeline. In Principe d’incertitude (principle of uncertainty), the fragile green glasses held in tension contain uranium, a highly radioactive element. The paradox of this title is interesting to the artist, for whom the strength of a principle is that it preexists to any reality that will be defined after it, when in quantum physics, the uncertainty principle is one asserting a fundamental limit to accuracy. Here, the 1920’s glasses carry an active substance from the past towards the future, seized in its very own fragility.

Nicolas Bourthoumieux’s states that time shall not be measured as a succession of fleeing moments but rather understood as potential multiplicity of realities that could co-exist.

With Minuit, a lit candlestick combining neo-gothic, art deco and dystopian aesthetics looking down at the house fireplace, Nicolas Bourthoumieux conveys with a sort of melancholia the spirits of past ostentatious social gathering while also recalling the slow eviction of fire from the domestic environment for its dangerous potential.

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