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The Surface as Site: Exterior A

Caitlin Yardley

To cite this contribution:

Yardley, Caitlin. ‘The Surface as Site: Exterior A.’ OAR: The Oxford Artistic and Practice Based Research Platform Issue 1 (2017),

Exterior A, 2016, HD video, 6’30”, filmed at Maison Louis Carré, Bazoches-sur-Guyonne with permission from Association Alvar Aalto, Paris.

Maison Louis Carré is Finnish architect Alvar Aalto’s only building in France, located 40 kilometres south-west of Paris in the small village of Bazoches-sur-Guyonne. The house was commissioned in the 1950s following a meeting between Louis Carré, a Paris art dealer and Aalto at the Venice Biennale, where in 1956 Aalto had designed the Finnish pavilion. Together the architect and the art dealer created an important design within modernist domestic architecture. The significance of Maison Louis Carré resides in its particularly close relationship to theories of how an interior domestic space might be conceived and arranged with the intention of living with art. It was proposed that the house might appear small on the outside but contain an interior of large volume.

Carré used the house as a space to both live with his own collection and to bring prospective buyers to view specific works, installed in situ. Today, the house is a museum and contains all original furnishings and fittings as designed by Aalto, but the walls are empty. On the death of Carré’s widow in 2002, the significant art collection fell to distant family and was quickly dispersed at auction. This included paintings and sculptures by Bonnard, Picasso, Calder, Leger, Klee, Le Corbusier, Degas and Duchamp, all of which had been displayed on the walls and in the designed spaces of Maison Louis Carré. While the collection was dismantled, the house and its furnishings were perceived to hold international significance and were acquired for preservation through a joint effort by the French and Finnish states.

Exterior A is an early work in my broader project Mobile Composition that will focus on the interior of Maison Louis Carré, and the art collection of its former owner. This will result in a body of works installed in the house, a series of photographs and a parallel publication. The project works with the posthumous dispersal of Carré’s collection, and is an attempt to reconvene it through other means. The collection is being considered specifically as it was installed and documented by Aalto’s architectural photographer Heikki Havas in 1962, the year in which the house was visited by Finnish President, Urho Kekkonen.

This work is an encounter with the surface of a site; it is a moment of first contact, using long static shots to draw out the moment where we find ourselves in proximity to, but outside of, knowledge.

Working with video as a methodology, visual and audio material has been gathered and organised, evidencing the moment of physical exclusion from content. It is intended as a means to visualise the initial resistance of research to reveal itself at the point of encounter, while tracing and resembling its physical form.

About the author:

Caitlin Yardley is an artist living and working in London. She completed an MFA at Goldsmiths, University of London, in 2012. Recent exhibitions and screenings include Mobile Composition, Maison Louis Carré with the Alvar Aalto Association, Paris (forthcoming in 2017); The Legacy Complex, Nordic Art Association, Stockholm (2016); Epic Narratives, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Australia (2015); Medium, Moana Project Space, Perth (2015); One Way Return, Peter Von Kant, London (2014); Open Cube, White Cube, London (2013).