The Frac Bretagne brings together for the first time the entire film series incorporating central Neanderthal figures produced by British artist Nathaniel Mellors since 2012.
The first film titled The Sophisticated Neanderthal Interview (2012) features an interview between an ethereal “modern” man (Truson) and an apparently real Neanderthal. The modern man is unable to read the Neanderthal’s intelligence and in return the Neanderthal plays with him and his expectations of primitivism. The work reflects on contemporary class and identity separation but also anticipates recent developments in prehistoric science whereby the Neanderthal has been ‘de-objectified’ – moving from idiot relative to a central figure in the evolution of homo-sapiens. The interview appears to take place in a version of mythic ‘Eden’ which Mellors uses as a symbolic point of transition from sustainable hunter-gathering to ecologically untenable ownership. The work was filmed in the historic Bronson Caves in Griffith Park in Los Angeles (recurring filming location for Hollywood westerns and original Batman TV show).
Neanderthal Container (2014) features the reappearance of the character in the form of a Neanderthal stunt-dummy in permanent free-fall. As well as filming the figure falling and bouncing off trees, plants and buildings in and around Los Angeles, Mellors dropped the Neanderthal figure from a plane over the San Joaquin Valley. Mellors conceived the falling figure as depicting an “absolute exterior” and these sequences are punctuated by more psychedelic video fragments depicting the Neanderthal’s interior – a film-set populated by four different versions of the Neanderthal character who reflect on their condition and position “inside the Neanderthal stunt-dummy… which is actually a spaceship.”
Neanderthal Crucifixion (2021) features the return of The Neanderthal character from the previous works as an animated puppet – the new work is made with stop-frame animation and the narrative addresses the Neanderthal’s excitement about his forthcoming retirement, reflections on his cultural innovations “(“I invented houses”) and his social-alienation, class-resentment and prejudice against the new and increasingly prevalent homo-sapiens whose heads appear to be too small.
As a sort of prequel to the trilogy, the exhibition at Frac Bretagne looks back at Ourhouse (2010 – ) British TV drama being eaten from the inside out. It stages the eccentric Maddox-Wilson family’s lives destabilized when their house (‘Ourhouse’) is occupied by The Object (Brian Catling), whom the family fail to recognise as a human-being, each perceiving a different form in its place. The Object yields strange power over words and begins to eat the family’s books; processing their story inside its guts. Each episode of the series is determined by the texts The Object consumes, half-digests and vomitss-back-up.
In Ourhouse Episode -1 (2015-16), presented as part of the exhibition at Frac Bretagne, L’Objet eats The Eternal Present – a book retracing 35,000 years of European rock art.
Nathaniel Mellors (1974, United Kingdom)
Nathaniel Mellors develops an art based on film-making; writing scripts as well as directing and editing them, and working closely with actors such as Patrick Kennedy and David Birkin. To these films, he adds works based on sculpture and photograms, such as the ones that can be seen in this show. His studio works incorporate humor, irreverence, the poetic and the absurd but to address themes of ownership, history, power, morality etc. By drawing inspiration from the techniques linked to cinematographic fictions, he inscribes his work within given contexts of the social reality that he questions and analyzes. He explores our tastes, morality, habits and the various ideas anchored in our collective memory.
Nathaniel Mellors is graduated from the Royal College of Art in London in 2001. His work has notably been shown at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and at the Art: Concept Gallery, Paris (2014); at the 57th Venice Biennale with ErkkaNissinen for the Finnish Pavilion (2017); at the New Museum in New York (2018); at The Box, Los Angeles and at Matt’s Gallery in London (2019).
With a resolutely saturated and pop photographic aesthetic, Louise Mutrel’s work combines popular and vernacular icons from here and elsewhere. Her photographic approach claims the image in its contemporary use. She evacuates any notion of materiality attributed a priori. No more prints, mats or frames. The artist postulates a free image, always in movement and whose nomadism allows it to exist in the abyssal flow of social networks or in various forms such as the printed flags adorning the gallery at La Villette or today on the façade of the Frac Bretagne.
However, if she knows how to free herself from the classic codes of the photographic medium, Louise Mutrel chooses not to entrust everything to digital technology, preferring an analog, mechanical and profoundly plastic approach to the manipulation of the visual through the risographic process. A popular offset photocopying method that originated in Japan in the 1950s and was widely used throughout the world until the 2000s, risography gives images a screened texture and an immediately identifiable acidic colour palette. While one might see in the use of this printing technique a touch of nostalgia and a pronounced taste for a certain “vintage” look, the artist’s approach is, on the contrary, perfectly consistent with a practice situated in our time. Risography acts as a filter, but when many of her contemporaries willingly indulge in intensive “photoshop”, Louise Mutrel takes hold of the material to brillantly play with colours and printing.
Presented in large format, her images act as giant bumper stickers that corrupt the black façade of the very minimal Frac Bretagne. This impenetrable glass wall is illuminated by her photographs to become a “wall” in the digital sense of the word on which the images scroll, unfold and construct a visual and rhythmic adventure. The supposed neutrality of the building becomes a field of possibilities, a paradoxically blank page that comes alive with the aesthetic peregrinations of the young photographer.
Louise Mutrel invites us on an “exploded road trip”, she says. It is made of trucks, alpine landscapes, rocks, a car park (whose pylons delightfully echo the granite alignments of Aurelie Nemours) but also more abstract forms in a poetic and dreamlike collage on the scale of the building. She says little about her subjects. They are offered to our gaze and it is now up to us to imagine their history. All she tells us is that her framing is inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e prints, “images of the floating world” in French.
Born in 1992, Louise Mutrel works in Arles and Paris. She graduated from both the Haute École d’Art du Rhin in Strasbourg and the École Nationale Supérieure de Photographie d’Arles. In 2017, in Japan, she collaborated with local artisans by experimenting with Washi, a precious traditional Japanese paper. Since 2020, she has been building a plastic and photographic journey with rizography printing. Her work has been presented notably at La Villette, Paris in 2021, at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie d’Arles in 2019 or at the Institut Français de Tokyo in 2018.
Autumn 2021. The world is slowly emerging from the lethargy imposed by the global pandemic. What we all hope will be a global accident will have acted as a magnifying glass on social and societal inequalities. If the entire planet has suffered from this virus, it is clear that we have not been treated equally according to our social condition, our skin color, our gender or our country. Beyond the COVID-19 crisis, the last few years have also generated real awareness that we hope will last. Whether they reveal themselves through violent or pacifist demands, legitimate or debatable, they have nevertheless allowed us to “problematize” a world too reluctant to question its fundamentals
The exhibition Ces dernières années proposes to look together at how the artworks that have recently entered the collection of the Frac Bretagne reflect the sounds of our world. They evoke with poetry and commitment the feminist and ecological questions, the notions of withdrawal and confinement, popular struggles or social conditions.
Finally, because a public collection of contemporary art is also, and perhaps even above all, a meeting of artistic expressions present and active in a here and now.
Artist inhabited by a buried history of forms, materials and ritual practices, Thomas Teurlai invests spaces all over the world, from white cube to decaying industrial spaces. Uncovering stories, rearranging sounds, sculptures and human sciences, the artist brings back life and movement to abandoned objects and stories. From this meeting between the worlds of alchemy, DIY and the sacred emerge hybrid installations that solicit our erogenous zones. The visitor finds himself involved, body and soul, in these spaces of quirky poetry, where time seems to expand.
For his exhibition at Frac Bretagne, Thomas Teurlai focusses on subsidence, a geological phenomenon describing the sinking of mega-cities due to the pumping of underground water and intensive concreting. This global collapse serves as the start of a filmic wandering in subjective view.
Cyberpunk reverie where a ghost museum wanders its feet in the water, collapsing under the repeated assaults of spores and other antediluvian viruses. A wandering back in time, weaving together seemingly distant spaces.
There will be the mummies of street artists lying on the dusty banks of a stillborn story.
A radioactive granite astrolabe making up the soundtrack, like an inverted monolithic Theremin.
And a text as a epileptic spinning wheel, spinning the way off to exit the tunnel.
On the other side of the stained wormhole.
Thomas Teurlai (1988, France), lives and works in Clichy.
Graduated from Villa Arson, Nice in 2011, he completed his training with a post-diploma from the Lyon art school in 2014. In 2015, he was awarded the 17th Prix de la Fondation Ricard. His work is also presented as part of La Nuit Blanche and Ateliers de Rennes, Contemporary Art Biennale, at the Cantini Museum in Marseille (2016), at the Palais de Tokyo (2017) at La Panacée, Montpellier (2018) and at the Les Tanneries d’Amilly contemporary art center (2019).
Coproduction : WIELS Centre d’art contemporain – Bruxelles (BE) , Frac Bretagne – Rennes (FR), Kunstencentrum BUDA – Courtrai (BE), la Communauté flamande de Belgique, Museum Dhondt Dhaenens – Deurle (BE), Netwerk – Aalst (BE), Kunstendecreet (BE), Fondation Serralves – Porto (PT), Théâtre de Poche – Hédé-Bazouges (FR)
Artist Manon de Boer and choreographer Latifa Laâbissi meet in 2015 during a workshop around the influence of Oskar Schlemmer and the fluidity of working across media and different artistic languages. For both, pluridisciplinarity is essential to their work. They decide to deepen their collaboration in a deliberately dilated, stretched temporality, and in diversified work contexts like itinerant conversations, memories of reading and gardening, correspondence and collages.
Their dialogue steps out from result-driven processes, steady rhythms and prefigured calendars. Both de Boer and Laâbissi have consolidated trajectories and working methods and saw in their collaboration an occasion to challenge inertia and function differently. In this way, and over time, they are building a common corpus of images, a mental map that they activate and explore, questioning each other’s discipline and advancing into a priori unknown territory.
The project Qui parle? / Wie spreekt? puts the voice at the fore front. It questions the voice’s timbre, language and accent.
The project has 2 parts: one choreographic (Ghost Party I) and the other video (Ghost Party II).
Manon de Boer (1966, India), lives and works in Brussels.
Manon de Boer completed her artistic education at the Akademie Van Beeldende Kunsten, Rotterdam, and at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. Using personal narration and musical interpretation as both method and subject, de Boer explores the relationship between language, time, and truth claims to produce a series of portrait films in which the film medium itself is continuously interrogated.
Her work has been exhibited internationally, at the Venice Biennial (2007), Berlin Biennial (2008), São Paulo Biennial (2010), Documenta (2012), Taipei Biennial (2016) and has also been included in numerous film festivals in Hong Kong, Marseille, Rotterdam and Vienna. Her work has been the subject of monographic exhibitions at Witte de With in Rotterdam (2008), Frankfurter Kunstverein (2008), South London Gallery (2010), Contemporary Art Museum of St Louis (2011), Museum of Art Philadelphia (2012), Van Abbe Museum, NL (2013), Secession Vienna (2016) and Groundwork, GB (2018), among others.
Latifa Laâbissi (1964, France), lives and works in Rennes.
Latifa Laâbissi mixes genres and redefines formats to bring onstage a special kind of of camera layering of figures and voices. The use of voice and the face as vehicles for certain states became irrevocably entwined with the danced act in Self-portrait camouflage (2006) and Loredreamsong (2010). Then, continuing her examination of the theme of archive, she created Écran somnambule and La part du rite (2012), based on German dance of the 20s. Pourvu qu’on ait l’ivresse (2016) is cosigned with the set designer Nadia Lauro. Since 2011, Latifa Laâbissi has been the Artistic Director of Extension Sauvage, an artistic and pedagogical program located in rural areas of Brittany. In 2016, a monographic book about her whole work is published at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers and Les presses du réel. In 2018, she creates with Antonia Baehr, Consul & Meshie, a simian performance in a visual installation by Nadia Lauro. They also gather, in 2019, for the video Moving Backwards by the duo Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz, presented in the Swiss Pavilion of the 58th Venice Biennale. On Summer 2019, the Festival de Marseille welcomes the premières of her last creation, White Dog, a choreography for 4 performers.
The display is full of surprises, don’t you think? These heights, the visual echoes between paintings and photographs are indeed astonishing. Maybe you already know it : this collection is yours. It is a common good that a team of professionals is taking care of so that in decades, we can still understand and appreciate it.
The Frac Bretagne collection brings together works of artists from different generations and art scenes whether local, regional and international. Abstraction is one of the historical bases of the collection which also unfolds around thematic axes: works in relation to nature, that question the status of the contemporary image, the artist as a witness to his/her time, as well as as large monographic bodies.
The works go in and out from this storage for exhibitions and participatory projects. The FRACs are indeed the most widely distributed public collections in France. This principle of mobility defines these institutions as essential players in regional policies aiming to reduce geographical and social disparities in access to culture. Thus, FRACs are facilitating the discovery of contemporary art by the most diverse types of publics.
For you, the Frac has recorded voices to listen to. You’ll her an improbable flight attendant, fine connoisseur of conservation issues, witnesses recounting their memories of the works that you can see, technicians who know the collection better than anyone, works that speak to each other… and also the public with whom the Frac sets up numerous projects throughout the region and who has bring art pieces into their venues.
This installation by French Artist Anaïs Touchot (born in 1987 in Dinan), situated in Frac Bretagne’s Canyon, is a space where the public is invited to relax, read, listen, scribble, hide, or chat, surrounded by barricades/palisades and tatami mats. Le Pédilove offers a place for lounging, encouraging bodies to adopt a slightly softer attitude, waiting and lascivious. Words painted on fabrics, table and signs play with expressions lifted from hypnosis, meditation, and coaching tutorials, adding a “fortune cookie” aspect to the artificial environment.
By inventing a space that borrows codes from multiple places, Anaïs Touchot carries on with her work as a “builder” or “demolisher” of shared spaces, affirming her role in the production of forms in which she diverts the weight of materials, removing any aspect of solemnity. A spirit of derision hovers in the titles of her latest works: “I will leave my old skin there”, “Muddy Glory”, “Lost Cat”, “Beauty worker”. These installations use catchphrases and buzzwords as a way of anchoring oneself in a shared banality, one that levels hierarchies, bringing together the art of the beauty salon, the football match, or the cat bar. “Relax, everything will be fine”.
The so-called “skylight” space was transformed in 2019 into a “canyon”, a hybrid space between an artistic experimentation platform and an educational space. It is inhabited by the passable installation “Le Pédilove” by Anaïs Touchot. It is a friendly and flexible place that promotes debate and the collective as well as individual experience – it is equipped with tables, seats, documentary resources, etc.