Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone? 
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Those Edgar Allan Poe’s words have been haunting me since I first listened to them in the voice of Anne-Loiuse Lambert playing Miranda St Claire in the ever beautiful and enigmatic Picnic at Hanging Rock directed in 1975 by Peter Weir. Time has a special treatment in the film so does the atmosphere which really wraps your senses locking you inside their sensitive luminous world under the Australian sun.

Recently one night before going to sleep, I found myself lost and locked in nostalgia. I visited places of my childhood, moments from the past that brought a certain kind of comfort and warmth just before the full dark night fell over me. Walking as if I was dreaming I escaped for an instant from the rough reality of the present and after leaving this temporary corridor of foggy images I went again back to the idea that our journey is full of beauty, pain, love, bitterness and splendor and this is fine with me. Is it the beginning of acceptance?

I found this capacity to navigate through time, feeling moments and situations so vividly, and even the atmosphere of those events really overwhelming as this smell of the past was kind of a channel which I could open whenever I want in order to let these feelings come over me when needed. Reviving and activating what I lived or remember from a time that is already gone was at that particular moment a healing ritual.

But there is a danger in this, that these memories possess you intensely, not allowing you to enjoy the present and the future to come. Knowing the nature of the mood, I rather prefer to think about the experience like a tool we all have, a magic trick that takes us away for a few minutes but when back to real time it allows us to understand better the present we face now. It helps us to cope with the uncertainty of a future yet to come but which we always find surprisingly already here with not time to react.

Return Garden is that place where I go back often and which slowly unfolds like a flower or a perfume, leaving a scent whose “sillage”* accompanies you as if it was always there by your side impregnating your skin, your brain tissues… it is like this ghost image that stands close to you when you will leave after visiting or watching the constructed journey of this exhibition… and it will certainly change through time echoing in your mind after the first encounter. In taking care of the past it is also important to reshape the present. There is something precious in keeping this alive or even in preserving it.

The rhythm of our society forces us to go ahead with no time to assimilate what we have become and what we were… it will be comforting to sense that everything can be as certain as it is when you buy a return ticket. You know where you are going and you know that you will return to the same point of departure… but the journey will be a different experience. The physicality of the places and the spaces will remain the same and you will feel secure again but it is you who will have changed. After this planned trip, the mind expands through the experience and it will never be the same as it was when you departed with your return ticket in your hand.


*French word for the perfume trail when someone leaves the room, it is the scent that lingers when the person disappears, and therefore the person really has not gone.