Joël Andrianomearisoa’s The Labyrinth of Passions is an immersive installation presented in this year’s Audemars Piguet VIP lounge at ARCOmadrid 2016. It consists of large paper pieces suspended in such numbers so as to saturate the room, obliging visitors to force their way in. It evokes games of impossible love, ultimate caresses of black or white fabrics, with no other frustration that innacessible body.

With conceptual references to Oscar Wilde’s letter to his lover De Profundis, The Labyrinth of Passions represents the futility of love to reveal itself “from the depths”. It speaks to obscurity and death, failure and ultimately disappointment; in short, the very fabric of contemporary life. The transition is complete, and the obscured subject is manifested only as crack or a broken mirror that forbids representation. A distant memory cries in the dark.

Leading the viewer almost blindly through a journey from light to darkness, from the primeval dawn of life to mysterious, indescribable loss, Andrianomearisoa continues his earlier engagement with the realities of love, their crude manifestations of borderless desire bound up with the most abysmal faces of the world: violence, domination, longing, cruelty, effacement.

In this strange journey, surfaces become the warm archi-textures of a condition, in a site of contradictions. The black and white monochromes are for Andrianomearisoa not a terminal end, but a monologue and a diary of personal stories tightly sewn into compact wholes by words and gestures – a universality of sentiments. Wilde’s De Profundis, written under emotional isolation and the endurance of physical labor, is more than a testament to love and devotion; it is also an epic of liberation in the midst of discrimination, criminal libel, and exclusion. The artist, inspired by the naturalism of the Victorian age, is keen to describe the complexities of love – and of the world – as dark forces, following Wilde more in the rhythmic pattern of the letter, through a desperate cry of life.

As an artist, Andrianomearisoa proceeds in the manner of a surveyor and ethnographer: mapping out categories of thought and social reality sculpted into immersive environments that simultaneously flatter and deceive. The materials are raw, but infinitely delicate, almost to the point of breaking, in a self-contained chaos ready to overflow an entire universe of experience. This experience, however boundless, is not circumscribed by aesthetic purity or formal properties: It is compromised by the dramas of the political body, the global economy and contemporary alienation. The work attempts to confront us with the emotional vacuity of an uncertain, liquid world.

This object-book Labyrinth of Passions, was designed by the artist as a memory of the project, and a tribute to life itself. It is a tactile and visual experience that celebrates the present moment and the ones to come, gathering in its central body a poem by the artist that contains the concepts that inspired his monumental installation.

Sabrina Amrani