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Charlotte Charbonnel at La Verrière

Vibrato con Sordino

Charlotte Charbonnel defines her work as 'one thing that reveals another'. Invited by the Fondation d'entreprise Hermès to create a work in situ at La Verrière in Brussels, she has transformed the exhibition space into a giant musical instrument, paradoxically silent yet full of sound.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Charlotte Charbonnel at La Verrière
© Fabien de Cugnac

Charlotte Charbonnel is a young French artist (born in 1980), and a graduate of the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs (Paris). Her work explores the displacement of meaning, opening the way to multiple layers of interpretation. Her experiential installations are often inspired by natural phenomena.

At La Verrière in Brussels, she takes the sun as her starting point: 'The sun actually hums,' she says. 'Solar activity produces sounds, even though we can't hear them. The sun is like a gigantic sound-box, open on all sides.'

Her work in situ takes the form of a huge musical instrument – part mega-harp, part outsize guitar, a violin with no soundboard, an XL cello… The piece takes the shape of a four-sided prism, coming to a point at its base, like the inverted imprint of La Verrière's glass pyramidal roof. Hundreds of strings made from nylon, horsehair, gut or steel resonate in a continuous dialogue, blurring our perception of the nature of their sound.

Visitors can agitate the strings lightly, generating sounds echoed in a glass sphere held 'prisoner' within the installation. The sun rays play over the giant 'instrument of silence' too, inviting us to 'listen to the sound of light'.

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