Photomechanical reproduction: digital file to be printed on variable support, variable dimensions
Sculpture: Brass clockwork on base under glass globe, 27.4 x 17 x 17 cm
Video projection: color video and sound, in video projection, 12'.
Drawing: pencil, Indian ink and watercolor on paper, 29.8 x 41.8 cm (unframed), 37 x 48.5 x 3 cm (framed)
For her exhibition at the Frac Franche-Comté, Nina Laisné has created a series of works based around an automaton representing Marie-Antoinette and the story of Karl Wilhelm Naundorff (1785-1845), the watchmaker who usurped the identity of Louis XVII, dauphin of France.
Her starting point was an android, designed by clockmaker Peter Kintzing and cabinetmaker David Roentgen, acquired by Marie-Antoinette in 1785. The tympanon player is just like her: she sits in front of a tympanon, stored in the "body" of a harpsichord, and strikes the strings with small hammers. The mechanism includes eight tunes favored by the queen. Nina Laisné, the granddaughter of a clockmaker and a student of the psaltery herself, was captivated by the discovery of this marvel during a visit to the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris.
She has produced a photomechanical reproduction(La joueuse de tympanon, 2019). More importantly, she undertook the production of an altered replica of its mechanism(Air n°6 [Plaintes d'une femme auprès du berceau de son fils]), in collaboration with watchmaker Francis Plachta and the Plateforme technologique microtechniques et prototypage, in Morteau. The replica features an element that reveals its counterfeit nature: one of its eight tunes has been replaced by that of a lament by Arnaud Berquin, which the queen sang to her children, "Plaintes d'une femme auprès du berceau de son fils" ("On earth there is no one left / Who is pleased to help us"), echoing the fate of the royal family.
The falsification of this historic object led Nina Laisné to investigate the controversy surrounding the "false Louis XVII", the imposters who usurped the identity of France's last dauphin. The discovery of the personal archives of German watchmaker Karl Wilhelm Naundorff, a notorious forger, was the source of the film L'air des infortunés . This short film recreates a trial scene, in which the evidence is the counterfeit mechanism of La joueuse de tympanon. The accused - Naundorff - sings Berquin's lullaby, transforming the trial into an operatic spectacle. Fiction seizes on the blurred history to weave a link between the automaton and Marie-Antoinette's alleged son. The camera then begins a slow tracking shot, revealing the set, the costumes, the make-up... The film closes with the sudden return of fiction and the arrival of a band of revolutionary rioters in a formidable loop between past and present, fiction and its staging.
A drawing executed in the manner of late 18th-century caricatures completes the series. Nina Laisné has depicted the watchmaker Karl Wilhelm Naundorff as a manipulative figure, winding up the mechanism of the automaton representing Marie-Antoinette as a tympanon player.
Born in 1985 in Libourne (F)
Lives and works between Madrid and Besançon
A 2009 graduate of the École supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, where she specialized in photography and video, Nina Laisné also studied traditional South American music with guitarist Miguel Garau. Her images, both still and moving, play with trompe-l'œil, shifts in meaning and ambiguity, and regularly engage in dialogue with musical writing.
This was the case in 2013 with En présence (piedad silenciosa), a short film about religious reminiscences in Venezuelan folklore, in which she began a collaboration with musicians Daniel and Pablo Zapico. With Folk Songs (2014) and Esas lágrimas son pocas(2015) she tackles documentary-like forms based on musical traditions in migration phenomena.
Nina Laisné collaborates with numerous performing artists, including flamenco dancer and choreographer Israel Galván(El Amor Brujo), puppeteer Renaud Herbin(Open the Owl), Malagueña choreographer Luz Arcas(Toná), and François Chaignaud. The concert-show conceived with the latter, Romances Inciertos, un autre Orlando, a co-production of La Bâtie festival de Genève in 2017, enjoyed over a hundred performances on international tour. In 2018, the duo will be shooting Mourn,O Nature! a short film inspired by Massenet's opera Werther.
In December 2021, Nina Laisné and Daniel Zapico will create Arca ostinata, a miniature opera set at Les 2 Scènes, Scène nationale de Besançon, where Nina Laisné is associate artist until 2024.