Henri Jacques Ancona, Elise Arnaud, Elen Hallégouet, Johanna Medyk, Manon Pretto, Nino Spanu, Hannah Todt, Malak Yahfoufi, Wang Yuquing Pai

9 January — 16 January 2020

The exhibition “VEILLE” questions surveillance topics, its use, impact and the evolution in the societies. It portrays current systems in our society and tries to establish the limits and to escape from them before they impose themselves. The exhibition questions our everyday life, victim of this surveillance rise and it interrogates the power given by a such establishment.

Surveillance has always raised questions by its secret and mysterious aspects. Granter of power, it troubles us and seems unattainable on the top of its ivory tower or because of its political rank. Sometimes defamed by conspiracy theories or advocated in the name of public safety, opinions split about its real threat overhanging the privacy.

Facing this situation, wait looks like the best attitude. In a near-sleepiness state but stand to act, we keep a eye on these electronics eyes which infiltrate the environment. “VEILLE”’s artists watch and explore the blurred provoked by surveillance.

Threat and doubt fly over our future and over this exhibition. Manon Pretto and Elise Arnaud are familiar with authority and control questioning, but on divergent aspects. Their works get compatible and use established turmoil, thus the artists appropriate surveillance marking this tension tangible. To interrogate our own individuality in the middle of the crowd is legitimate. Is the subject really surveyed when he is a sample part ? This tacit wandering comfort our relation with web datas: innumerable, immaterial, almost invisible, to avoid them become truly difficult. Nino examines his own database to reach his first data: his birth certificate. Instead of fleeing or destroying this recording, he raises it as an archive and offer it a body. It is about facing this control, accepting it or being constrained by it, until even the most tiny acts are recorded. In her video, Malak Yahfoufi denounces an oppressed society with checkpoints analysing the most insignificant gestures. A such limited freedom is the most concerning point approached by the exhibition.

The anodyne way we give to those gestures in spite of their political scale remembers the surveillance systems taking the same to discreetly interfere in our daily life. These many eyes we feel all around us, drew the attention of Pai WangYuqing when she arrived in France. Touched by this phenomenon invading her privacy by a too present vis-à-vis, voyeurism has raised a new question. With as many drawings as looks she felt upon her, she reconsiders media roles and social networks, decreasing boundaries between public and private life. 

By this mosaic of viewpoints and situations, she achieves to draw the look of the world around her.

Escaping from this surveillance becomes a goal to reach. Prudishness, secrecy, anticonformism, privacy protection, are all acceptable reasons so often called upon. To avoid those menaces, Elen Hallégouët and Hannah Todt move apart using this control devices as a tool. Through a directing, they overwhelm the watcher-whatched pattern and question marks left by human in the physical and virtual worlds. At the end, reveal something else than the real may be a covering up method.

Opposite the built and integrated surveillance omnipresence, the full individual disappearance seems on the other hand impossible. Thus, the last option would be the evasion out of these erected boundaries. In which circumstances, Henri-Jacques Ancona propose ways-out, hideout, clandestine paths in the aim of running away. By this interdisciplinary act, he open a breach building with holes and nooks and offers an exit toward a more attractive horizon. The pieces presented in “VEILLE”, even if restricted to the present than projected in the future, can’t avoid the anticipation of the future. For the moment harmless, like sleeping, this machines are, as people, between lethargy and acting out. Eyes are open in both camp, observing their wakefulness state, watching out for the next day look.

The exhibition “VEILLE” has been supported by the École Supérieure d’Art de Clermont-Métropole.