Galerie Cécile Fakhoury is pleased to present projections, the second solo exhibition dedicated to the Ivorian artist Yéanzi.
In 2015, persona presented a series of portraits, figures and silhouettes, comprising individuals with a dual identity, derived either from the artist’s immediate social network or one beyond that. A second personality conveyed by a nickname evoking a role, a pseudonym redefining a personal background, introduces a densely woven society seeking a new identity.
Identity is always at the core of Yéanzi’s purpose but the prism changed, the perspective is broadening and extending to groups. Yéanzi redefines his field of observation, focusing on the collective entity. His technique has also evolved. Press cuttings are replaced by camera films coming from from an image database linked to the artist. Whether they are photographs taken by Yéanzi, ID or family photos, scans of personal effects like a passport, a article about him, a signature or a barcode identifying his purchase, Yéanzi releases an internal narrative, derived from his external influences onto a new textile unleashed from its frame. Through this intimate glimpse, he harnesses a new gallery of portraits, defined by their links to the group. From these personal archives, he makes transfers, a very ordinary technique appropriated by the artist to add to his creative domain. The transfers are handcrafted, the colors are wisely chosen and mistakes can occur. The narrative guides the scope of the layout and superimposition.
This question of renewed identity always begins with introspection; who am I? Who are we? Am I who I think I am, or am I who someone else says I am? Me looking at myself or me through the gaze of the other? But when I look at myself, can I see myself without an intervening external viewpoint? These questions, evoked by Patrick Charaudeau in Réflexions sur l’identité culturelle ( Reflections on Cultural Identity) are clear to Yéanzi. Can we alone shape ourselves? The introduction of the group in Yéanzi’s work is an on-going reflection, his work on individuality leads him to this observation: interaction and exchanges with the rest of the world make us who we are. He, therefore, perceives the group as a priority to adress with conviction; self-awareness and identity is to define oneself in the context of others.
The exhibition features eleven canvas and two installations. The canvases are from the series Les pétroliers (The oil tankers), a multi-faceted group. In the background of the installation Exit, identity cards from different countries can be seen all bearing the name Yeanzi Lanin Saint Etienne. The artist borrows the identities of people who are close to him and who move him in terms of culture. The Togolese, Senegalese, French and Ivorian nationalities claimed by one individual highlight this sense of belonging with multiple choices. Nothing is absolute in this quest for identity. There are numerous influences, different voices can be used and fashioned. This turmoil prevents a strict definition; an identity is a choice and the definition is subjective.
This interpretation is recounted by certain group mechanisms that Yéanzi observes in the communities that surround him. He draws parallels between global events and what happens in his neighbourhood. The Brexit phenomenon has a familiar resonance with him; this break-up of a union is a recurring situation in the way of life that he observes. Every day, he notices ruptures regarding identity on a local scale. He perceives these changes as a search for identity; claims of belonging that evolve in relation to each story and the relationship to the group. Leave a community to redefine yourself, to fit in better, to break from a system, to escape for the sake of self-redefinition.
All these observations are human projections, to project yourself into a culture that suits you better in order to find equilibrium. A quest, that is, at times, brutal, that enables you to grow and fit in. The artist materialises these projections in a room shaped like a beam. The 12 films that were used for the prints are brought to light; the projection comes to fruition and enables Yéanzi to discern the film and the hologram, the original and its avatar. The duplication becomes perceptible and is expressed like a way of shaping yourself and existing, to shape your personality according to personal desire, defined by your connection to the world.