Markus Raetz
CECI – CELA (THIS – THAT), 1992-1993

  • Markus Raetz (Büren an der Aare, 1941 - Berne, 2020 )
  • CECI – CELA (THIS – THAT), 1992-1993
  • Brass, wood, mirror, 8 cm (height of each letter), 33 x 43.3 x 8 cm (mirror)
  • Acquisition, 1998
  • Inv. 1998-007
  • © Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne


Markus Raetz has been interested in perception since the 1960s. He uses simple, ingenious tricks to design sculptures that are transformed by movement: either some external force makes them move and change as the visitor watches, or the visitor’s own movement makes the sculpture seem to shift progressively from one state to another. As if watching a conjuring trick, we marvel as we watch the matter transform, a motif reverse or turn into something else, a word represent itself and its own opposite, a silhouette burst into three dimensions.

CECI – CELA works on the same principle using a new stratagem in the form of a mirror. Four brass capital letters, ‘CECI’ (‘THIS’), are attached to the wall near the corner. They are reflected in a mirror on the other wall, spelling ‘CELA’ (‘THAT’). How can ‘CECI’ also be ‘CELA’? Why does the mirror not reflect the exact same image as the model? This shows that reality always has two faces, two opposite sides that co-exist, and therefore one is also the other. Raetz invites us to mistrust appearances, which can often be deceptive.

Mirrors produce images that are reversed from reality, which is not the case here. Raetz has added elements to each letter to turn it into another that can still be read from left to right in the mirror. ‘CECI’ is therefore also ‘CELA’ because the artist has himself undercut the principle of his own stratagem to create an image that is a legible word in its own right.


Didier Semin, Markus Raetz: infimes distorsions, Paris, L’échoppe, 2013.

Gilbert Lascaux, Markus Raetz, exh. cat. Arles, Actes Sud, Nîmes, Carré d’art, 2006.

Catherine Lepdor, Jörg Zutter et alii, Le Miroir vivant: René Magritte, Marcel Broodthaers, Bruce Nauman, Markus Raetz, Les Cahiers du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne n. 6, 1997: 34, cat. 78, ill. 39.