09/10/2003 > 24/10/2003
Opening on 09/10/2003, from 6 pm to 9 pm
More particularly known for her video works and photo series, LAETITIA BENAT lets us see fragments of her inner world through her works, which are like windows opening onto intimate landscapes. Her series of images are like pictures from a movie pinned at the front door of a movie theatre: stories barely started from which the viewer can imagine his own movie.
For her first one person show in France and her first venue in a French gallery, LAETITIA BENAT presents her drawing for the first time, which has been transferred to the walls for the occasion.
Often drawn in diaries, her drawings are where she expresses herself most. Drawing replaces writing, as filming and photographing replace looking. Her wall drawings are the spatial transposition of these notebooks, and the strolling of the visitor replaces the turning of its pages. Realized freehand, they preserve the spirit and the spontaneity of small scale drawings. Sketches of flowers, animals, faces and bodies echo with each other; the drawings are refined, cleared and focused on a few details that make them legible. These evanescent traces of mental images act like a condensation of LAETITIA BENAT's imaginative world on walls.
Mixed with a feeling of suspended time, the artist's thoughts, often close to fantasy, create in her apparently fragile universe a threatening calmness. This oscillation between anxiety and serenity is particularly striking in LAETITIA BENAT's video works. Five of them, selected by bdv, are screened here. In Nearby, the still, heavy and idealised landscapes which LAETITIA BENAT presents us with, become mental planes in long shot sequences. She creates a movement between the inside (bedroom, white walls, girls doing nothing) and the outside (landscapes filmed in 16mm).
Although one might associate the inside with confinement, it is actually the outside which becomes oppressive due to the framing and the fixed image, though it's not the artist's decision. This depressive atmosphere evolves slowly, until it becomes threatening. In Nearby the trees tops swaying in the wind leave an impression of anxiety. One can not tell what is going to happen; nothing's happening, but the expectation is menacing.
In the video animations MC/CW and Blood, LAETITIA BENAT uses a female portrait as a starting point and proceeds to animate it with a slow spreading of dirt and blood. In MC/WC it is the face of singer Mariah Carey which gradually gets covered with blood like the face of Carrie WHITE, the heroine, as interpreted by Sissy SPACEK, from Brian DE PALMA's film Carrie (1976).
Black Sanna is a fantastic story in black and white showing and making fun of what could be a witches' gathering.
Halvimar is the continuation of Black Sanna, but could have been the story that happened before it.
Halvimar is a make-believe name which helps to leave the impression of following a character. LAETITIA BENAT is trying to find ways to film these bodies which have become shadows. She's showing a love scene: apparently taking place in castle, a young man and a young woman are reading, disembodied, and dressed in animal skins. At the end the only things left are the skins on the terrace of the castle. The young woman seems to be back in the castle after many years to rekindle the memory of her lost beloved. She has to realise that the love she had doesn't exist anymore. The film is full of brutal cuts which re-enforces this harsh reality. The only moments of calm and continuity are the reading scenes.
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