As part of the fringe of the 10th Bamako Encounters and in collaboration with Galerie Cécile Fakhoury, Blabla-Hippodrome presents the exhibition “à découvert (exposed)” from October 31st to December 31st, 2015. It discloses two in situ photographic installations in different spaces which are however connected: Mali Militari (2011-2013) by François-Xavier Gbré is exhibited in The Gardens of the Blabla while the series Pieds de bois (2001-2005) by Yo-Yo Gonthier covers the walls of the open-air room “Beyrouth”.
The Gardens of the Blabla are marked with a peculiar presence; characters, limbs, and faces inhabit the place. ‘‘Authoritative and unyielding, even the statues undergoing construction command a type of attention that should induce respect’’ writes Brendan Wattenberg* on François-Xavier Gbré’s Mali Militari series. The installation Pied de bois by Yo-Yo Gonthier tells us about the birth and the beginnings of the world. ‘‘The trees claimed dominion, long before the earth was ours**.’’ A plant and human world engage into a dialogue. Through its intuitive strength and its brittleness, this relationship to man and to nature dwells in the various areas of the Blabla. Beyrouth and the Gardens evolve between construction and deconstruction, where nature and the elements have a role to play.
In the spirit of connecting and building artistic proposals with others and through others, the prevailing pledge of Galerie Cécile Fakhoury is resolutely focused on exchanges and geographical movements might they be within its walls, locally or beyond the borders of the Ivory Coast. Through this joint proposal with the Blabla for the fringe of the 10th Rencontres de Bamako, this endeavor has now materialized. The African photography biennale participates actively to this diffusion through physical meetings and platforms where the artists, their artworks and the general public can interact. Just as here, at the Blabla, where it takes the form of an in situ installation where the image is one with the walls and the environment, creating closeness and an element of surprise that encourages a dialogue.
In order to present Pieds de bois, his series of film photographs produced between 2000 and 2005 at the Reunion Island, Yo-Yo Gonthier conceives a space entirely covered with trees and parts of an opaque and foggy, clear and dense forest. The artwork, printed on large format on light paper, transcribes the freedom for the artist to use the photographic image as a tool.
François-Xavier Gbré’s Mali Militari is a photographic corpus of the evolution of Bamako city between 2011 and 2013. It investigates the changes in the urban environment, the symbolism of the monument, the meaning of its presence and the visual attachment that it gives to the inhabitants. Here, the steles are moved, there are found in the street of the Blabla, in a precarious garden, far away from their majestuous “Avenue des Armées”, in Sotuba.
Photography enables playing the lining of reality. Here, without a frame, it becomes an urban nature, a landscape in a landscape, a mirrored or superimposed reality. The two linked propositions open on passages, myths of cities or lands, a window towards possibilities.
* Catalog The Past is a Foreign Country, p. 14, Brendan Wattenberg curator of the exhibition, Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Haverford College, USA, 2015
** Yo-Yo Gonthier, text from the series Pieds de bois, Reunion Island, 2000-2005, photography, heliogravure printing