Benoît Géhanne

– No parcelling 2023

Géhanne’s installation starts from the piece of industrial archeology, an old bottling machine from the brewery, that was left behind in the middle of the room. It is not only a strange but also an alienating element, of which the exact operation initially is hard to determine. With its appearance that is somewhere between a tentacled robot and a flying saucer, it looked to Géhanne to come straight from a 1950s science fiction movie.

Géhanne applies this principle to all the elements he adds in the room. He not only takes inspiration from the industrial architecture of the space or the Watou landscape. A song by Beck (‘Waitin’ for a Train’: ‘I’m an alien from another sphere. The thing I like about the earth is the range of colors…’) and a text by Mike Kelley on UFOs (Ufology (2004)) also make their mark.

Hanging on the wall is a series of four large metal paintings, each consisting of four parts. Like a kind of puzzle, they reconstruct a certain vision of Watou through photographic records of roofs, silos or hangars in an interplay with abstract painted forms.

The room features colourful ‘unstable’ sculptures that continue the fragmented photographic record of the village. Here we see a heightened focus on margins and voids, functional and technical architectures, or infrastructures. The sculptures all seem to invite manipulation or at the very least possess the capacity to move. Like the machine part that is seamlessly incorporated into this composition, their operation is hard to ascertain. They have wheels, they look like suspended table structures or connect with the ceiling.

To be able to read these elements it is often necessary to assume an unusual position. Every eventual reconstruction or meaning the visitor infers, possesses the same legitimacy. Especially important is the discovery of an unknown, lost or as yet undiscovered visual language. By offering the opportunity to shift one’s gaze, to transfer attention from the familiar to the peculiar, the initial disorientation paves the way for an active reading of Watou. It is no longer primarily a question of recognition but rather of trying to know, to identify, and thus to encounter.

1973, Cherbourg, France

Lives and works in Saint-Denis,

Benoît Géhanne works in series through different practices: paintings, volumes, drawings, photographs, installations. Using documents, archives, or even photographs, he takes samples, cutting them up to extract fragments. These pieces, abstracted and brought back, then constitute the matrix of the pieces and the studio work. By detaching portions of images, by eluding their referents, by making them autonomous, Benoît Géhanne probes the resistance of forms. He tests the habits of a world where the act of seeing is directly linked to appropriation and identification.

His pieces ultimately question the way in which we are led to look, to consider everything.

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