with Lito Kattou, Gaëlle Leenhardt & Damien Le Dévédec, Robin Lopvet & Sam Racheboeuf, and Elena Subach.
In the beginning there was space. This group of artists sets the background of the exhibition and its general architecture, building a framework in which the other two groups can operate. Together, these artworks focus on landscape, nature, and territory, each of them creating a specific environment and questioning natural and social space. At the same time, they engage and interact with these concepts, while pushing their limits.
Lito Kattou questions the interconnectedness of sculpture and drawing, as well as their boundaries. Her flat, non-human bodies explore the shifting relationship humans have with nature in our technologically mediated era. Copper and nickel-layered flowers accompany these bodies. They are fabricated using the technique of electroforming out of dried Mediterranean milk thistles that the artist hand picks. Matched with the inorganic sculptures, these flowers become offerings, weapons, chisels or tools. The traces of fonts found online, also collected and transformed by Kattou as ruins of an indecipherable language, complete her distinctive formal language. ‘Dance Destroyer’, ‘Night Queen’ and ‘Double Mooner’ create a post-apocalyptic, post-anthropocentric landscape to be discovered by the archaeologists of the future.
Gaëlle Leenhardt’s practice is best summarized as an act of digging. Her approach to sculpture, which involves surveying, excavating, and archiving, might be likened to that of an archaeologist. Film photography is an integral part of this process. This is the starting point for ‘Fantômes de polychrome (Ghosts of polychrome)’, a new video produced with Damien Le Dévédec especially for this exhibition. Its raw materials are black and white photos taken by Leenhardt on the island of Samothrace in Greece. They are combined with remastered body sounds recorded in France during the Covid-19 confinement and excerpts from Noces à Tipasa and Le vent à Djemila by Albert Camus (texts he wrote in another Mediterranean country, Algeria). In archaeology “ghosts of polychromy” indicate traces of pigments on objects that were once painted. The work’s title refers to the once colourful statue of the winged Victory of Samothrace, the iconic masterpiece found on the Greek island, now white. Merging ruins and myths, nature and culture, life and death ‘Fantômes de polychrome’ creates a monochromic landscape of stone, sea and sun, inviting us to “plunge into a blue and yellow world”, in Camus’s words.
In another experimental video punctuated by a monochord voice, reading titles from a catalogue by the French publishing house Gallimard, blended with the instrumental part of the hit Voyage Voyage by Desireless, Robin Lopvet and Sam Racheboeuf take us on a digital journey of classical landscapes appearing and disappearing through layers. Using a digital editing programme, ‘Voyage Voyage Voyage’ recreates an image by image animation using a selection of well known paintings. From the first sequence we are taken into a world of unrecognizable landscapes. Lopvet and Racheboeuf aim to dematerialize these masterpieces, erasing, decontextualizing, and reintroducing actors and landscapes in different environments. Roughly edited using a quick copy-paste method, these once recognizable paintings are lost in a constant flow of movement, creating an accumulation of visual and narrative stimuli.
Finally, in her photographic series ‘Grandmothers on the Edge of Heaven’, Elena Subach examines the gap between the post-war generation of her grandmother and her own generation. The ultra connected world we live in has further deepened the abyss between these two eras, where technologies surround us, controlling and defining most of our daily activities and interactions. Starting from personal memories of her grandmother, Maria, Subach’s series of diptychs and triptychs represent the livelihoods, landscapes, thoughts and beliefs of this generation of women. As we move from one photograph to the next we discover a visual environment that combines religious symbols and the use of plastic material. In addition to depicting an image of modernity we know – where plastic is part of our everyday landscape – they highlight their coexistence in private and public spheres. Here we witness the grandmothers carrying their memories and savings in scarfs, acts that neither belong to the past nor the present, but can only belong to them.
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