Belonging to the generation of young French artists who reject labels and classifications, Laetitia Bénat has made multidisciplinary research a continuous practice: her work is open and responsive to the stimuli of fashion, photography, and auteur cinema. She has participated in various exhibitions tied to the experience and initiative of the Purple Institute, whose publishing and exhibition practices have left a rich legacy. For example, Purple, founded in 1992 as a black and white magazine project by two Parisian art critics, Elein Fleiss and Olivier Zahm, became a reference for artists, photographers, and designers alike. Today, existing in two versions, Purple Fashion and Purple Magazine discuss art, fashion, and photography and have unquestionably reshaped the imaginary of art and fashion since the nineties.
The attention paid to signs and the most accidental and ephemeral observations acts as a catalyst in this French artist’s powerful imagination. In fact, Bénat often gathers impressions through drawings and sketches that establish a quasi-fantastical dimension—somehow suspended in time—in which a state of fragile balance and threatening calm obscures unexpected surprises.
This oscillation between anxiety and tranquility is particularly evident in the corpus of Bénat’s video works. In her preference for long sequences, in her sensibility for alternating images of interiors (such as bedrooms, white walls, or girls in contemplation) and exteriors (landscapes filmed in 16 mm), the artist creates evocative dimensions. Her works often seem to provoke in their viewers an experience beyond the visual, creating almost physical sensations. [F.B.]
List of Works
Royal Garden, 1997–1998
video, color, sound, 33 min. 10 sec.
Purchased with the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo
Indian Summer, 1997
video, color, sound, 14 min. 18 sec.
The video aligns a series of strongly evocative situations. An off-screen voice narrates memories that seem to be taken from a letter, while a sequence of shots exposes the actions and tensions produced by a female body. Two girls seated at a party drink and smoke, while background music and noise create an estranging effect. At the end, one of the seated girls tries to put nail polish on one of her toes, while the camera highlights an unhealed wound on her big toe.
Songs from a Room, 1997
video, color, sound, 07 min. 16 sec.
Against a background of songs in a predominantly red room, several girls seated next to each other play around and put on make-up.
Summer Love, 1998
video, color, sound, 9 min. 36 sec.
A solitary blonde girl lies down and listens to music with her head covered by a hood. Other images of girls appear in colored rooms, first red, then green. Finally, a couple, dressed in white, flirts with each other to the sound of sensual music. The couple is filmed against the light with a visibly overexposed effect.