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Le Bal : Marine Peixoto : Bercy Street Workout


“Where am I ?” A man actively wanders around the exhibition. He looks at each print and searches his portrait.  His gaze scans the room and settles on the photographs that adorn the walls – still lifes, portraits, tight shots… Finally, he finds himself. Happy. He points. “I am here.”

He is there because he is one of those who trains at the Bercy Street Workout, the sports field in the Bercy Park in the 12th arrondissement of Paris that Marine Peixoto photographed for three years. 2020 – 2023. A period of obsession and profusion for this artist who took more than 5,000 photos of this place and those who practice there. From this abundance of images, more than 150 were chosen for the exhibition. This is held at the Bal, which actively supported this project by awarding it the Young Creation le Bal/ADAGP prize in 2021, and which unveils this work in the long term, from March 7 to May 19.

In her series, Marine Peixoto documents territories that are familiar to her and questions the way we occupy our lives in a given environment. Days at the beach, a village festival… and here Bercy. The Bercy Street Workout, more precisely. A place for sports and street. A place embodied by those who come to train daily. A place in which she immersed herself and which she inhabited in her own way. Some doing push-ups, her taking photos. Faced with this energetic and motivated population, it has also imposed the principle of no day off. “I document from Sunday to Sunday (…) Like those who come to train, my relationship to the field is daily practice and photography is my participation in the collective effort.” An obsession that drove her for 1000 days.

Sculpt your eye or your body, it doesn’t matter. Just more of the same. Because more than a practice, what was shared here is a vision of the field and of living together. The collective spirit. If we notice that the people photographed are mainly men, it is not a question of gender, but of surpassing oneself, of obstinacy, of gaining self-esteem and that of others. What form of community emerges from this? What are its pillars? To express it other than in images, the photographer borrows the words of Toni Morrison “love as respect without reason.”

Bars of chocolate, bulging abs, swollen muscles… Marine Peixoto does, what she calls, cold photography of hot subjects. A new perspective for these athletes who are used to taking photos of themselves with their smartphones and posting instantly on social networks. However, the properties of analog photography are those of long time, black and white, texture, paper… an approach which was disconcerting at the beginning before becoming widely acclaimed. An original and unexpected look, which she was able to impose through her resilience and her talent and which brings emotion and intimacy to these scenes; feelings that one would not necessarily think to find near these public iron bars.

Walk past them, a very noisy environment awaits you. But here we are, facing the silence of the photos. We hear nothing of the breathing, the discussions, the shouts, the laughter, the encouragement, the challenges. We nevertheless feel the energy. From the prints, yes, but also by a hanging designed like a score to be deciphered. Same size, same frame. If no photograph prevails over another, they are nevertheless sometimes grouped in twos, threes, fives, tens, or presented individually; thus alternating between dense ensembles and visual silences. A music of its own which, as our eyes move along the walls, transports us, in turn, to this living, vibrant, unique Bercy.

Marine Aubenas


Marine Peixoto : Bercy Street Workout
March 7 – May 19, 2024
Le Bal
6 impasse de la Défense
75018 Paris

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