2021 Marcel Duchamp Prize: meet the winner, Lili Reynaud Dewar
The Marcel Duchamp Prize was created in 2000 on the initiative of the ADIAF ("Association pour la diffusion internationale de l'art français"), to highlight the creative abundance of the French art scene, and has been supported by Societe Générale Private Banking for several years. Its aim is to distinguish the most representative artists of their generation and to promote internationally the diversity of practices currently at work in France. Meet the 2021 winner, Lili Reynaud Dewar.
How would you describe your current practice in terms of preferred media and themes?
I spent around five years producing films as part of a team, and with lots of actresses and actors. The films have the common theme of presenting and putting into images discussions, debates, disagreements and utterances — often improvised — between protagonists which address crucial questions in the contemporary world: cultural appropriation in Teeth Gums Machines Future Society filmed in Memphis, Tennessee, 2016; the role of art in phenomena such as landscape gentrification and modification in Beyond The Land of Minimal Possessions filmed in Marfa, Texas, 2018; the rise of populism and violence, and the hardening of political tensions with the film presented for the Rome Marcel Duchamp Prize, 1er et 2 Novembre 1975, filmed in Rome and Japan in 2019, in which actresses and actors take turns playing Pier Paolo Pasolini’s last interview.
Images credits: TEETH, GUMS, MACHINES, FUTURE, SOCIETY, Film, 2016 / film HD, color, 35'59'' / With Jada Brisentine, Darius Clayton, Henry Coleman, Ashley Cook, Hendrik Hegray, Brandon Sams / Produced by Olga Rozenblum for Redshoes / Courtesy of the artist, Clearing, Brussels & New York, kamel mennour, Paris, Emanuel Layr, Vienna
What pieces (or series of pieces) best epitomise your work, or are particularly meaningful to you?
In parallel to these films involving big teams, a director of photography, a sound editor, a script, all the post-production, and a huge amount of dialogue, I’ve been doing a lot more solitary and silent work for the last ten years. They are silent videos that I film wherever my work is shown. I dance and film myself alone in empty museums and art centres. It’s about establishing a dialogue, embodying a confrontation or conflict with these places, except with very different means. So far, I've produced around fifty, and I plan to continue for as much time I have to exhibit — these films bear witness to the passage of time on my body, but also on the exhibitions of a given time, both mine and ours.
Image credits: Beyond the Land of Minimal Possessions Single channel film, HD, color, 81 minutes / With Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Bianca Benenti Oriol, Joana Castilhos, Yannis Christ, Thomas Liu Le Lann, Trystan Matthey, Arttu Palmio, Claire Van Lubeek, Chad Dawkins, Dorothée Dupuis, Peter Friel, Heyd Fontenot, Laurent Schmid, Michael Smith, Ida Soulard, Ramaya Tegegne, Martha Wilson, Mireille Rias, Sandro Canovas / Camera: Victor Zébo; Sound: Laurent Schmid; Editing: Nicolas Bacou; Music: Nicolas Murer; Make-up : Trystan Matthey; Special effects: Hugo Scibetta / Produced by Head Geneva and Olga Rozenblum for Redshoes with the support of Artpace San Antonio and the French Institute in Texas, Fieldwork Marfa and Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès.
Tell us about a source of inspiration that has been important in your journey (an encounter, a lecture, an event, etc.).
The work of the Afro-American artist Adrian Piper, namely Untitled at Max Kansas City, 1970. It’s a youth performance in which she walks around a bar which at the time was very hip in the New York art scene. A mask over her eyes and her hands gloved in black leather, she tries to isolate herself from the glamorous, social context of the art, and shield herself from influence. I love the passive-aggressive, even snobbish, side of this extremely simple work that gives visibility to the artist’s social and collective construct. The artist is a product of a specific context. Yet seeking to transgress this obvious fact through ways of being and living is what I find crucial.
Can you give us a few words on your project for the 2021 Marcel Duchamp Prize?
It's a number of films mirroring one another and executed using a repetition that I quite like. I started brainstorming the idea in 2018, began filming on the first of January 2019 in Rome at Villa Medici, and continued into September in Okayama as part of Pierre Huyghe’s exhibition If the Snake. The editing began soon after the start of filming and ran until summer this year, as there are thousands of possibilities for this choral film that involves 24 of my friends, former students, work contacts, family members and loved ones. Taking an open cue from a biopic by Abel Ferrara, one of my favourite directors, I asked each of them to take turns embodying the roles of Pier Paolo Pasolini and his young lover Pino Pelosi, who admits to his murder before retracting his admission decades later. I also directed long biographical interviews with the actresses and actors. They will be presented as part of the installation at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in the form of individual booklets that visitors can read in situ or take home.
Image credits: I Want All Of The Above To Be The Sun (Dancing With Myself), 2018 / Video, color, HD, 15’40’’ / Pinault Collection.
Where will you be exhibiting after the Marcel Duchamp Prize?
My next exhibition will be at Hôtel des Collections de Montpellier in March 2022. I’ll be screening a film that was created collectively, called Gruppo Petrolio. It is a fifteen-hour film broken down into episodes showing groups of young people preparing actions against emblems of ecocidal capitalism targeting industry and technology in Grenoble — a model science and technology hub. The inexperience and failures of the characters have a comic effect in the film, but one that is also esoteric and at times opaque. We see the protagonists mobilise during the reading of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s work Petrolio. Published posthumously, Petrolio is a novel made up of entirely disparate fragments that move from fable to investigative journalism to erotica. It is the story of Carlos, an engineer working in oil research, who has an erotomaniac split personality. He and his double cross 1960s and 1970s Italy, its political tensions and attacks, its economic boom, and the ensuing changes to nature and the landscape in particular. In this way, Petrolio is a harbinger of the current struggles around ecology. Over the course of the story, both Carlo and his double transform to become a woman, and then a man again, and go on a kind of initiatory journey within what we know Pasolini saw as a deadly modernity.
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