Benoit Broisat
18/11/2006 > 22/12/2006

Opening on 18/11/2006, from 7 pm to 9 pm

BENOIT BROISAT's work deals with mechanisms of representation and the creative function of images. For his first gallery exhibition, the young French artist will present his latest project, Place Franz Liszt. While Bonneville, his previous video work, was a journey into the souvenirs of his home town he left long ago, Place Franz Liszt is a journey into the representation that some individuals have of a place he doesn't know himself. In both cases, the original place is inaccessible: the first one because of time passing by, the second one because of the deliberate choice of the artist not to go there.

"The starting point of the project is very simple and sounds like the rule of a game: how accurate can a representation be when only based on testimonies? How true can the images I produce be considered, if representing a place where I have never been, that I never saw in picture and which I try to imagine only through the testimonies of its inhabitants? As simple as this experiment sounds, it bears all the questions, contradictions and obstacles that are part of any portrayal. The point is to study these complex issues, but also to find different formal answers that could become alternatives to the traditional ways of representation.

To carry this experiment I chose the Franz Liszt square, in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, because I didn't know it and its name would give me no hint about its layout. I sent a letter to the people living around the plaza to explain my project and ask them to send me a written description of the square. Some answers were long technical descriptions (inventory of urban furniture, details about floor covering etc), some were more literary texts describing everyday life on the square, its evolution and activity, some even were poetical evocations of the square : its atmosphere, the light on it a particular time of the day or some other very subjective feelings.

My representation of the square was also built on what people did not write about: if what is said is significant, what is unsaid, forgotten or overlooked does have as much signification. Thus, the South part of the square is barely mentioned, or is reduced to a simple backdrop; in the final installation this gives a dead angle, a space that seems out of the shot, thus breaking the circular quality of the setting.

Through the descriptions I received, sometimes completing each other, sometimes contradicting, I started to imagine the square, then to translate these mental images into computer images, then to animate these, trying to overcome problems caused by incoherent or contradictory information. Based on these first drafts, I got into a regular mail exchange with some inhabitants, their view of the square being put into words, their words becoming an image, the image in turn bringing more words, and these words telling about both reality and the way of seeing it. Although elusive and always changing, the 'real' square is the constant reference of the project, bringing unity to this transmutation.

In the exhibition, three videos, computer created views of three sides of the square, are projected on three walls, while in the middle of the room a bench recalls those found in public spaces. In another room, along with stills from the videos, the project is 'deconstructed' through its archives : letters to and from the inhabitants, drawings, computer images in progress and small scale models. The videos, although playing with the feeling of immersion, do not try to imitate panoramic views or to recreate a physically coherent space. The camera zooms in and out, moves, and does not try to maintain the continuity of a perspective, or a link between one frame and the other. It is more about the restitution of a kind of psychological truth and about the choices and focuses a viewer will operate if immersed in a real space." (BENOIT BROISAT)

BENOIT BROISAT was born in 1980 in Bonneville (France). He lives and works in Paris. His work has already been shown, amongst others, in Incipit (Fondation d'entreprise Ricard, Paris), Historias animadas (CaixaForum, Barcelone ; Sala Rekalde, Bilbao ; Le Fresnoy, Tourcoing), Dis&Appearance (Fri-Art, Centre d'art contemporain, Fribourg) and I Still Believe In Miracles (ARC/Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris).