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Reviews, conversations, printed matters
What's your background?, 6x6project London UK, 2017
The 54th Program, MOCA Hiroshima JP, 2016-17
Athena's Gaze, La Galerie du Temps, Porto PT, 2016
Créer des Fictions,ThankYouForComing.net FR, 2015
Mont(r)er en Voix-Off, Le Bourdon - Arpla.fr FR, 2015
RCA's Work in Progress, Dazed & Confused, London UK, 2011
THE OWLS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM, curated by Olivia Fahmy, Heinzer Reszler Gallery, Lausanne CH, 2019
Text by Olivia Fahmy
(EN) In her works Gabrielle Le Bayon freely sails from history - especially ancient history - to the signs of its persistence in the present. She looks more particularly at certain traits associated with the female. Through image, photography, video, sound and more recently performance, she proposes a broad reflection on desire, "as a tool that diverts the existing to produce a short circuit at the scale of signs". In his video "Get in Touch", this reflection materializes, for example, in a search for a visual of the desire that can be traced, from scenes of embalming in ancient Egypt - where the body is prepared for the longest and most mystical journey - to the most emblematic modern constructions. A desire that takes shape in stone, and connects our present to the time of the earliest times when human social life took on a materially traceable form, to the desire felt even in death and the promises it could or can still carry. "What is left behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what has been woven over time into the lives of other people. "Gabrielle Le Bayon emphasizes, through anachronistic and analogous connections, the questionings, movements and more specifically the return of certain forms inherent in human histories. Jacques Rancière, a contemporary French philosopher, states in Le partage du sensible about the relationship between aesthetics and politics: "The arts never lend to the companies of domination or emancipation what they can lend them, is quite simply what they have in common with them: positions and movements of the bodies, functions of speech, distributions of the visible and the invisible. "In the video Le regard d'Athena, Gabrielle Le Bayon looks for traces of these positions and the movements of the bodies of the Greek goddess rooted in the city that bears her name. Not the traces of her glorious cult, the temples that were built for her, the statues that were worshipped by her; but the survival of her features, of her memory, a movement common to other figures who would incarnate in other female faces, filmed in the street. "Every path is a quest with similarities: the slightest analogies are solicited as sleepy signs that must be awakened so that they start talking again," Foucault explains again in Les mots et les choses. Thus, Gabrielle Le Bayon is working in her own way to awaken these signs, creating the illusion, in the manner of an archaeologist, that past and present are surreptitiously united in a single time.
(FR) Dans ses travaux Gabrielle Le Bayon vogue librement de l’histoire - notamment antique – aux signes de sa persistance dans le présent, et se penche plus particulièrement sur certains traits associés au féminin. Par le biais de l’image, de la photographie, de la vidéo, du son et plus récemment de la performance, elle propose une réflexion large sur le désir, « comme outil qui détourne l'existant pour produire un court-circuit à l'échelle des signes ». Dans sa vidéo « Get in Touch », cette réflexion se matérialise par exemple en une recherche sur un visuel du désir que l’on peut retracer, des scènes d’embaumement de l’Égypte ancienne – où le corps est préparé au plus long et mystique des voyages – aux constructions modernes les plus emblématiques. Un désir qui prend forme dans la pierre, et qui connecte notre présent à l’époque des premiers temps où la vie sociale humaine a pris une forme matériellement traçable, jusqu’au désir éprouvé jusque dans la mort et les promesses qu’elle a pu ou peut encore porter. « Ce qu’on laisse derrière nous, ce n’est pas ce qui est gravé dans les monuments de pierres, mais ce qui s’est tissé au fil du temps dans la vie d’autres gens. » Gabrielle Le Bayon souligne, par des rapprochements anachroniques et par analogies, les questionnements, les mouvements et plus spécifiquement la revenance de certaines formes inhérentes aux histoires des hommes. Jacques Rancière, philosophe français contemporain, déclare dans Le partage du sensible au sujet des rapports entre esthétique et politique : « Les arts ne prêtent jamais aux entreprises de la domination ou de l’émancipation que ce qu’ils peuvent leur prêter, soit, tout simplement, ce qu’ils ont de commun avec elles : des positions et des mouvements des corps, des fonctions de la parole, des répartitions du visible et de l’invisible. » Dans la vidéo Le regard d’Athena, Gabrielle Le Bayon cherche les traces de ces positions et des mouvements des corps de la déesse grecque enracinées dans la ville qui porte son nom. Pas les traces de son glorieux culte, des temples qu’on lui aurait construit, des statues que l’on adorait d’elle ; mais la survivance de ses traits, de son souvenir, un mouvement commun à d’autres figures qui s’incarneraient dans d’autres visages féminins, filmés dans la rue. « Tout chemin est une quête aux similitudes : les moindres analogies sont sollicitées comme des signes assoupis qu’on doit réveiller pour qu’ils se mettent de nouveau à parler », explique encore Foucault dans Les mots et les choses. Ainsi, Gabrielle Le Bayon s’attelle à sa façon à réveiller ces signes, créant l’illusion, à la manière d’une archéologue, que passé et présent sont furtivement réunis en un seul temps.
Olivia Fahmy, independant curator, Lausanne CH, November 2019
OPEN FILM 2016, curated by Ed Atkins, Outpost Norwich UK, April 2016
Text by Ed Atkins
OUTPOST Open Film was initiated in 2011 as a celebration of artist’s moving image, showcasing established and emerging artists to new audiences across the UK and further afield. Previous selectors of the open call opportunity have been LUX Director Benjamin Cook, Artist Jesse Ash, Curator/Writer Adam Pugh, and Filmmaker Stuart Croft. The 2016 selection has been made by Ed Atkins, bringing together themes from the films of eighteen artists, based in the UK and internationally.
"As is the given of any person selecting from an open submission, thematic or discursively specific curatorial remit isn’t really possible – or indeed desirable. The tacit aim here, I think, is pretty much antithetical to any idea of predetermined meaning, of thesis and its illustration. The Open, as its name suggests, is something that begins open and, more or less, remains as such; it is in itself an openwork, necessarily ambivalent towards any attempt at conceptual fidelity or coherence. So many of the videos here seem to site themselves on various cusps of incoherence – many feel like object lessons warning against violent determinations of meaning, identity, communication. They often seem to vouch for the fallible, insofar as they place bodies and their mortal decrepitude at their heart – whether that’s underscored by a body’s absence, figured by a presumed effect on an audience member’s body, or literally featuring a body demonstrating certain of its irrepressible, corporeal aspects. This is often as a kind of rebuttal of the video technology’s own seeming prerogatives: bodily error rehearsed as an error at the heart of the tech’s promise. If a kind of protest of incoherence is a connect here, then it is also at the core of many of the works more or less explicit politics. It’s heartening to see so many videos that deftly and fiercely reject false representations of lives in favour of something that feels far more faithful to experience. It’s moving. And in this – my own emotional response – it’s clear that the other overarching theme of the selection is my subjective choice – of which I am unapologetic. If anything, this subjective perspective – which is presumed in the invitation to make the selection – feels in cahoots with the works themselves; desire seems paramount, as is a request for its empathetic allowance – even if we understand it to be so often retarded or diverted by myriad presumptions made upon us without our consent. These videos are intimate affairs, perhaps analogous to the increasing personal proximity of cameras and screens in so many of our lives. They straddle amateur drive and demotic parlance, politics; they repudiate consensus through their personal discretion, even as they make travesties of homogeneous templates and assumed symbolic orders in order to better commune in their individuality. The sequence of this programme came together almost straightaway, once I’d committed myself to the selection. A narrative almost unfurls. – Or perhaps, better, a mise en scene: domestic space cluttered with personal effects, clothes, patterns, histories – the indexes of lives in all their obscure impulses. Below are some thoughts on each of the videos – incomplete, certainly. I hope they might become part of the discourses seeded by each and every of the works on show here. Re-reading these thoughts, I’m aware of so much sadness. The lives outlined here are in varying states of crisis. What heartens, then, is that these videos provide an outlet for sharing those crises, for allegorising them in order to better appeal for empathy – which I duly extend in return and which I’m certain is the very condition of our alignment. (...) The worlds calmly turned through in Gabrielle Le Bayon’s ‘The Scale of Signs’ are absent in perhaps more various, complicated ways – history’s vicissitudes condemned to a textbook – technology’s condemn the textbook to nostalgia. Though the protagonist is flicking through the book backwards, meaning that if chronology is presumed, then her sincere desire is time travel, however quaint the notion. Like Mark Waller’s last sculpture, and its operational imperative to reflect the desires of its audience, this anachronistic book, filled with old-fashioned exotica, reflects the romantic desires of the narrator, who is apparently addressing a poet, that ultimate figure of doomed romance. The voice, however, speaks knowingly, of experience uncontained by representation, of desire outside of the monetary, against norms of a white, European presumption. Despite its apparent naivety, Le Bayon’s video calmly posits its own heretical movement. A movement, perhaps, that really is nonsadistic: a movement to undo – like reading an old history book backwards."
Ed Atkins (b. 1982, Oxford, UK) is an artist living and working in Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions include The Kitchen, New York, USA and Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark. Forthcoming activity includes Castello di Rivoli and SandrettoRebaudengo, Turin; DHC Art, Montreal; MMK, Frankfurt; Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York.
IMAGES TRAPS (Fake Space), curated by Maxa Zoller, International Women Film Festival Dortmund/Köln, 2019
Text by Maxa Zoller
"In Gabrielle Le Bayon’s films landscapes, people and myths come together in 'observational' moving images that are further combined with voice-over texts from interviews and readings. This dense relationship between image and text creates thought-provoking art works, in which classical, narrative elements are combined with the filmic tradition of the ‘essay film’. In her film practice, the artist is on the search for patterns and analogies that reach deeper into the surface of the image, into a kind of ‘DNA' of places and emotions. Ancient myths, those of classic Greek as well as pagan ones, are used as poetic tools to unearth the narrative beyond what the eye can see. The intellectual rigour of Le Bayon’s thinking shows her ability to represent complex theoretical and art historical thoughts in simple images.
Le Bayon’s fascination with the subject of mythology (her films ‘Antigone Millennium’ (2012) and ‘Return’ (2014) are both based on classical Greek texts) leads her to explore the history of spiritual and political communities that functioned as an alternative to dominants mode of co-habitation. Myth is central in her work, as any autonomous social structure, which also claims new spiritual believes as their own. Le Bayon’s political subtext is also reflected in and folded into the formal aspect of her films in that they resist the kind of ‘quick-fix’ video aesthetic. One can find a political stance in the artist's interest in historical alternative living organisations. In a contemporary consumer-based world, in which homogeneity is a precondition for an efficient market ideology, Le Bayon is exploring historical areas of resistance that could serve as models for thinking about how to live in today’s context differently."
Maxa Zoller, independant film curator, April 2019
GOING WHERE WE COME FROM, group show, Athens GR + Fluxum Foundation Geneva CH, May 2017
Texts by Olivia Fahmy & Myrto Katsimicha
(EN) Gabrielle Le Bayon works mainly with film, photography and text that often intertwine into a visual narration that triggers our relationship with history and reality. Myth constitutes a core element in her artistic practice that brings us back to the social history of the place through the intimate gaze of her protagonists while questioning its power in our ever-uncertain present. The video work presented here is an adaptation of a longer film, titled “Athena’s Gaze” (2017), which Le Bayon shot in Athens during her residency in June 2016. Drawing inspiration on the one hand from the historic and mythical past so much embedded in the life of the city as well as from the reality of an urban setting, the film depicts a journey in quest for “Athena” –the goddess and guardian of Athens– through the eyes of the “marbles” and through a series of facial expressions of women recorded in the streets. In this shorter site-specific version presented in this Ethiopian café run by women the viewer encounters the female gaze twice, on the screen and through the mirror, as a reflection on the ways representation is constructed within society.
Myrto Katsimicha, independant curator, Athens May 2017
(EN) "What we leave behind is not what is engraved in the stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others". In her work, Gabrielle Le Bayon emphasizes, through anachronistic reconciliations, questions, movements and more specifically the memory of certain forms inherent in the histories of men. Jacques Rancière, a contemporary French philosopher, states in The Distribution of the Sensible with regard to the relations between aesthetics and politics: "The arts never lend to the enterprises of domination or emancipation anything that they cannot lend them, and that is what they have in common: positions and movements of bodies, functions of speech, distributions of the visible and the invisible." In her video Athena's Gaze, Gabrielle Le Bayon looks for traces of bodily positions and movements from the Greek goddess rooted in the city that bears her name. She isn't looking for the traces of Athena's glorious worship, temples and statues; but the survival of Athena's features and memory, the joint movement with other figures that would be embodied in other female faces, filmed in the streets of Athens.
(FR) « Ce qu’on laisse derrière nous, ce n’est pas ce qui est gravé dans les monuments de pierres, mais ce qui s’est tissé au fil du temps dans la vie d’autres gens. » Dans ses travaux, Gabrielle Le Bayon souligne, par des rapprochements anachroniques, les questionnements, les mouvements et plus spécifiquement la revenance de certaines formes inhérentes aux histoires des hommes. Jacques Rancière, philosophe français contemporain, déclare dans Le partage du sensible au sujet des rapports entre esthétique et politique : « Les arts ne prêtent jamais aux entreprises de la domination ou de l’émancipation que ce qu’ils peuvent leur prêter, soit, tout simplement, ce qu’ils ont de commun avec elles: des positions et des mouvements des corps, des fonctions de la parole, des répartitions du visible et de l’invisible. » Dans la vidéo Le regard d’Athena, Gabrielle Le Bayon cherche les traces de ces positions et des mouvements des corps de la déesse grecque enracinées dans la ville qui porte son nom. Pas les traces de son glorieux culte, des temples qu’on lui aurait construit, des statues que l’on adorait d’elle ; mais la survivance de ses traits, de son souvenir, un mouvement commun à d’autres figures qui s’incarneraient dans d’autres visages féminins, filmés dans la rue.
Olivia Fahmy, independant curator, Athens May 2017