A Couple of Them - PhMuseum

A Couple of Them

ELSA & JOHANNA

2014 - 2016

New York, United States; France; Brittany, France; Bayonne, Aquitaine, France

Elsa parra and Johanna Benaïnous met in New York when they were still students. Very soon, they started sharing a seemingly mundane mutual passion: people watching. However, when the majority of us would stop the exercise at the diffuse pleasure of a drink with friends on a terrace, they, on the other hand, decided to turn it into a filmic and photographic work of a rare intensity. The A couple of them (2014-2015) series thus forms a sort of journey which they started in the depths of alterity, through a hundred photographic portraits and 23 video portraits that take us to the heart of a generation of teenagers, of young adults, boys and girls, whom we guess are couples, friends, brothers and sisters, cousins maybe... The most striking particularity of those portraits lies in that they are all personified by the artists themselves with each details of their faces, bodies, clothes they wear and the environment that welcomes them cannot give in to the weight of our capacity to deconstruct these images.

In fact, each one of them acts as a real-life story in which each word seems to be delivered by a detail of what fits in the frame, as if here, Pérec's meticulousness when formulating Things was encountering a geographical extension. And yet, and rightly so, it is all very mundane! A couple in bushes, a young woman on a bench, a girl in a tracksuit in front of a football goal post, a teenage boy wearing a battledress in the middle of a corn field...

We assume they are somewhere in the United Stated but nothing is ever spectacular and no movement or situation should, in theory, be worthy of enticing our eyes weary of Instagram. Through who knows what light and composition effect, and by doing jus enough rather than too much, a kind of tension appears which convinces us that it is all true when we actually know that we are looking at a trick.

And then there are the eyes: as if full of melancholic weariness. Almost all those faces have an element of that paradoxical gravity, that erosion of adolescence full of convictions and awkwardness. Full of the impossible innocence of a pulsating body.

Gael Charbau

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