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¡ Viva Villa ! 2020 : Benjamin Mouly


Benjamin Mouly studied photography at the ENSP in Arles and contemporary arts at the HEAD in Geneva. He had several exhibitions, in France and abroad (Periscope : Beyond Photography MC2 Gallery, Milan 2017 – Hojas de Perro, Alliance Française de Bogota, Colombie 2015) on the occasion of personal exhibitions (De Concert, galerie Les Filles du Calvaire, Paris 2015) and collective exhibitions and fairs. He worked for 6 years with the gallery Les Filles du Calvaire, and was a member artist of the Casa de Velázquez (Madrid) in 2019/2020.

My stay in Madrid at Casa de Velázquez allowed me to develop my project For The Birds. It is an hybrid project, between video and installation. Using video allows me to confront my interest for the image with my current concerns, which relate as much to performance as to sculpture. The moving image confers long-time existence to objects – often made of sugar – and situations – particularly in relation to birds and the bodies of actors – which are by nature ephemeral or furtive. My work integrates various components, such as birds, sugar, lard and gestures. The For the Birds project that I continue to lead brings together each of these elements, without hierarchy and with a certain dose of humor. 

Julie SAS describes for us Benjamin’s project :

For the Birds is a film made up of a collection of saynètes[1] (sketches) presenting a multiple character, seeking to forge a relationship with the birds by means of unusual materials —sugar, fat —or poetic approach techniques— idle waiting, choreography of gestures, amateur art practice. An illusionist dandy, a lard sculptor, a painter of the insides of jackets, a living statue, a lover of fights but also of naps— is an experimenter. Inventor of multiple meanings and of composite, mobile modes of action derived from opportunities, he avoids the seriousness of a scientific approach by being burlesque and thus allows the emergence of another modality to be present in the world, in relation to nature and birds. The result is the creation of an ecosystem of forms whose natural or artificial qualities are captured in a comic game of reversing values.

Oscillating between a documentary, a western and a silent film, For the Birds varies the genre and the forms as much as the perspectives. Subject to imbalance, these create a divided and polymorphic perception of reality of potentially infinite degrees and variables. Thus, For the Birds is a film that embodies the unsuspected resources of the living world and the dizzying range of possibilities that the visible field offers as soon as it is conceived beyond the human only perspective. Moreover, For the Birds is not necessarily aimed at human spectators, and after all, as a new man once said: “Aesthetics is to the artist what ornithology is to the birds”[2].

       Oscillant entre le documentaire, le western et le cinéma muet, « For the Birds » fait varier les genres et les registres autant que les regards. Soumis au déséquilibre, ceux-ci fabriquent une perception éclatée et polymorphique de la réalité en degrés et variables potentiellement infinis. Ainsi « For the Birds » est un film qui incarne les ressources insoupçonnées du domaine du vivant et l’éventail vertigineux des possibles qu’offre le champ du visible dès lors qu’il se conçoit hors de la seule perspective humaine. D’ailleurs « For the Birds » ne s’adresse pas forcément à des spectateurs humains, et après tout, comme un homme nouveau l’a un jour dit :« L’esthétique est à l’artiste ce que l’ornithologie est aux oiseaux »[2


[1]        A “saynète,” or sketch,” is a little farcical comedy performed during the interval in the Spanish theatre. The French term derives from the word “sainete,” which refers to a small piece of fat that is given to birds to reward them.

[2]         Quote from Barnett Newman, 1952


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