Rhombus Sectus

Raphaël Zarka

3 July 2009

16 mm film projection transferred to HD, 12′ (colour, sound). Courtesy of the artists and Gallery Michel Rein, Paris

Raphaël Zarka (Montpelier, 1977) is fascinated by geometric forms, and interested by architectural structures with sculptural influences. A skater as well as an artist, Zarka is attracted to polygonal forms, and their frequent relationship to scientific research, in a quest to make order out of chaos, as he himself puts it.
His experimental approach to volume led him to discover the national library of Belarus in Minsk, which was designed in 1980 but not built until 2006, and to make it the focus of his film Rhombus Sectus. Over ten days, Zarka filmed this singular building, which is the largest rhombicuboctahedron ever built. Plato described the polygon as the most perfect shape in the world, immortal in its representation. The Rhombus Sectus was first determined by Leonardo da Vinci in his geometry treatise Divine Proportion.
The film’s absolute protagonist is the building, and the fascination that it exerts upon Zarka: close-up and in the distance, by day and by night (when the lighting gives it a spectral feel, like an enigmatic space station), outside and in, revealing its structure and construction details. The result is an abstract film that is as multifaceted as the building itself, a documentary that appears to be cold and aseptic, but harbours mystery, magic and restrained passion. “I never try to present reality as it is. On the contrary, I want to show that we can only ever see the world through our own particular point of view, which is determined by our cultural education.”
The artist’s knowledge and interests unwittingly transform the library into a potential sculpture, an object of desire due to its geometric shape, which is both functional and aesthetic, a 26-sided solid with eight triangular and 18 square faces, dominating the skyline of Minsk.