Teresa Chen, Zineb Sedira, Janaina Tschape. Extra Muros: Valerie Mrejen
Three artists with varied and mixed cultural backgrounds, Teresa Chen
(Chinese-American), Zineb Sedira (French and Algerian) and Janaina Tschape
(Brazilian and German) offer us their contrasting and discerning personal
experiences. Their work lifts the veil on terms such as multiculturalism,
globalization or internationalism. Combining the infinite wealth of hybrid
cultures, their stories spin yarns that pass easily from identity and
difference, absence to presence, femininity to masculinity, past to
Multiplying perspectives as in a kaleidoscope, "Shifting Worlds" highlights the work of three artists who transfer their viewpoint to that of others, transforming it and metamorphosing our vision of the world. One by one, they redesign political or geographic landscapes with a degree of tenderness and intimacy that is nothing if not universal.
On the ground floor of Fri-Art, Zineb Sedira questions our identity and otherness. Born of post colonialism, Damascene (2001-2005) introduces us to the l'autre face de l'histoire: une histoire racontee avec des differences ('the other side of the story: a story told with differences'). Against a gold background, these words are featured on oriental wall paper. They express the word and the tongue that are the very essence of Zineb Sedira's work. The exhibition continues with Mother Tongue (2002), a triptych that recounts the relationship between three generations (mother, daughter, granddaughter) in three languages (Arabian, French, English). Mother, Father and I (2003) is the story of the Algerian War and exile in France as told by the artist's parents. In the last room, black ink and words dissolve in limpid water. This is Don't do to her what you did to me (1998/2001), the tale of a talisman, a feminine figure interprets a verse of the Quran.
On the first floor, the feminine body is again the focus, seemingly defying weightlessness. Water is the recurring theme - perhaps it signifies reconciliation.
Janaina Tschape takes us into a universe in full metamorphosis. In Camaleoas (2002), the "chameleons" symbolize the destinies of four women whose discourse is vital but contradictory (Fatima "Sol" personifies the sun, a star; Jani "Executiva" incarnates executive combat; Cristal "Planta" searches her roots in order to claim her liberty; Claudia the "Robot" begins to dream). Coming from a favela in the north of Rio, these heroines defy our imagination, revealing means of surpassing themselves, of transcending the feminine condition. Their stories become myth although they are just fragments of truncated, poignantly intense lives. In After the Rain (2003), nymph and nature are great reservoirs made up of membranes, containing the past, but also the future...
Teresa Chen's photographs often represent parts of her. The Atmospheres series (1996), Undeterminate Body (1997) or here Emerging II (2000-2001), revisit her body like a territory that she passes through, trying to establish new boundaries. Between the figurative and the abstract, between the narrative and the silent, between what is and what is not, we are invited to a closer examination of this indeterminate identity, this tested femininity. Whether we like it or not, her new series entitled Gorgeous (2004) comes as a surprise. Passing from fragments of the body to water that is opalescent and murky, she casts us into a semblance of blood. This fragile femininity is sorely tried. Like her sensual and profoundly human nature (bloodied water) the macroscopic photographs of iridescent flowers evoke concrete objects. Projecting both attraction and aversion, sensuality and repulsion, Teresa Chen stages the drama of our human condition, of our differences.
At the borderline between cultures and identities, "Shifting Worlds" reproduces the tradition of transmission. The "speculum" - the mirror - of the other brings us to decipher a social state in a personal manner, opening new perspectives on relationships. These stories, both personal and universal, intensify meetings and cultural exchange. They also give meaning to the interface between experiences of oneself and of others, and initiate us to the infinity of otherness.
(Translated from the French by Zosia Rozankowska, January 2005)
Extra Muros: Valerie Mrejen, Dieu, 2004 (projection in the public space from March 6 - 13, 2005)
Kunsthalle Fribourg, Fri-Art
22 petites-Rames - CH - 1700 Fribourg
With the support of the Coriolis Promotion, the State of Fribourg (DICS), the Loterie Romande, the Federal Office of Culture, the Foundation Nestle and British Council