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EMILIE HOUSSA, exposition Les règles du Je, duo show Elina Botherus & Sara Imloul

Centre Claude Cahun, janvier 2021 

Some images are overloaded with stories, so heavy with narrative that they are left to peacefully spread over the world. These images flow, and when gazing at them, we are swept up in a flood of possible words and hidden worlds. There is a certain magic in passing through these images; we fly from one space to another without ever knocking into one another because there are so many things to say, fill our ears with song and dazzle us with landscapes. A Finnish videographer and photographer, Elina Brotherus ceaselessly plays with the rules of this game which could also be written as “me” and which tirelessly passes from the word to the eye, from the eye to the poem, from the poem to everything within the frame that can laugh silently. Elina depicts herself in her photographs by working on mise en abîme as much as on derision. This way, she travels lightly from autofiction to gazing over the landscape, from reappropriation of art history to formal invention, blending still and moving images. So yes, Elina Brotherus’ work tells stories that are like neglected fairytales. The fable of a red ball caught in flight for Baldessari Assignments (2016) or the solitary women at Maison Carré (2015 – 2018) and the eternal tale of the artist and their model that she shapes in abundance by splitting herself in two. In Elina Brotherus’ stories the image is always on the edge of a forest where irony and melancholy stand kindly side by side. There is gentleness in this gaze, something that makes the banal expressions of existence feel like a novel.

This silent novel is also like an echo in negative in the play of Sara Imloul’s staging. Sara, a young French photographer, builds pictures in black and white, always re-interpreting in a slightly crazier way what the surrealists were working on in the 1920s. In Passages, simply by their positioning, she dives into contemporary archeology by installing objects that relate the mad mysteries of everything no one sees. Rather like Brassaï she reinvents signs by taming them within the contours of her frame: the infinite editing of shapes, relay passage from what we see to what we might see if only we allowed ourselves time for magic. And there is so much magic in these history-filled images, those which reroute reality to better hear its laugh.

Emilie Houssa

(co-director of the Centre Claude Cahun pour la photographie contemporaine, former Galerie Confluence, Nantes)

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