June, 2011
Carnegie Gallery,
Hobart, Tasmania

On the death of her daughter and only heir, and facing the dissipation of all her family and her life’s work, the richest woman in France bequeaths the familial home to the French people on the condition that, le château ne soit pas habité, mais simplement visité... et reste meublé tel qu'il est aujourd'hui, pour que le visiteur, au-delà de la simple curiosité, ait le sentiment d'une presence – that the home is never inhabited, only visited, and is furnished as it is today, so that visitors, beyond simple curiosity, would feel a presence.

A young historian from the Sorbonne ushers in a small group of tourist, gesturing to a black-and-white photograph of a kind-faced woman wearing a broad-brimmed hat from La Belle Epoque. Always with him is a thick manuscript filled with her image and generous, kind words.

In the evening, a middle-aged man of aristocratic descent closes one hundred and seven-two shutters while his wife comically listens for the severe, foreboding footsteps of the Marquise de Maillé. It is Friday and they both wait for the arrival of their youngest son whose image appears in a plain, red frame beneath the words, “Portraits de famille.”

Two bare-footed Australians steal into the dim foyer on a summer afternoon. In a cardboard box, they carry a drop sheet, some plaster of Paris, a funnel and some red balloons. Against the brocades, they wonder: what manner of life can exist after death?


In 2009, Elizabeth Woods and Kevin Leong were invited by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux to install a series of sculptural interventions (also titled Mouvements Dialectiques) at the Château de La Motte-Tilly, a historic home in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France. During the course of this project, the artists found themselves in the privileged position of being unsupervised in the château and in the close company of its keepers; from this position, the video and photographic work in this 2011 exhibition study facets of habit, habituation and inhabitation in a setting troubled with the solemn collision between fact and design.

The catalogue for this exhibition is available here.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and was supported by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux and Fondation Ténot. The artists wish to thank Gaëlle and Bruno du Mesnil du Buisson, Julien-Edouard Masset, Frédéric Szezepkowski, Jean-Yves Coffres and Dominique Ménager for their assistance, participation and support.