Katia Bourdarel on Caszuidas screen, Amsterdam.

As part of the “VIDEO GUIDE – Marseilles” screening series on CASZUIDAS screen – Moving Images in Public Space – Videospread is pleased to present Katia Bourdarel’s solo show “Superstitions”. The programme will be launched in January 2009 and screened for one year.


Profession: Artist
Gender: Female

Over one hundred years and the determination of many women were necessary to break the bonds that tied female artists to their social status of being Women: excluded from Fine Arts training, from signing contracts with gallery owners without their husband’s consent… A handful of women lead the way and fought to obtain an identical and equal status as the men, in a field that had long been a masculinist territory.

The networks and groups of women artists, authors, gallery owners, patrons… that arose in Paris in the pre, in-between and post-war years, were not so much associations or partnerships based on the sharing of professional, sexual, social or cultural values, standards or interests, but rather a community which allowed others to act knowing that they were part of a shared reality.

Marie Laurencin, Tamara de Lempicka, Sonia Delaunay, Iris Clert, Niki de Saint Phalle, Annette Messager and Louise Bourgeois – to state only a few – have in turn asserted themselves in a professional context which was for long ruled by the only will of men. They have, by their achievements, allowed other women to overstep purely formal issues, to take part in the reflection and construction of the global Art theory.

Katia Bourdarel’s programme – Superstitions – is the second of a series of seven solo shows dedicated to contemporary women artists who have chosen Art as a field for research, expression and personal development.

Katia Bourdarel

– Text by Guillaume Mansart –

At first glance, one could misinterpret Katia Bourdarel’s work and think of it as a fairytale in which princesses dance in the middle of a domesticated and celebrated nature, and children readily become kind-hearted heroes. And one could easily take this flawless happiness for granted, as rivers of flowing water run with power, gentleness and consistency.

The codes are identifiable. They reveal themselves without a veil, in her paintings, installations, photographies and videos: the childhood, the tale, the extraordinary, the dreamed life of angels whose only flaws are a bewildering beauty. Bourdarel’s work is about velvet-like worlds, which one could readily be tempted to accept without question, or be content with the comfortable situation of not penetrating the essence of things, of not looking where they are really happening, somewhere in between souvenir, trauma, family and sexuality…

Without conviction, one could remain in the « unspoken ». But we’re forced to dive in, in order to understand the work and its analysis: the invisible structures that compose our human being, the ambiguous forces that structure our relations to others, to the world. If she investigates childhood, Bourdarel does it with acuteness and a posed viewpoint. If the tales and legends -Peau d’Ane, Red ridding Hood, Bambi or Cinderella…- can at first seem to be the perfect container for a potential imaginary, they then reveal themselves to her as they are: fragments more or less admitted of a contained reality, the obvious signs of an unconscious complexity.

The polysemy of symbols she uses in these fantastic tales become arguments of a work which is, in a contradictory way, pulled towards a silky surface and a frightening feeling of diving in the depths of « one’s self ».  After all, childhood is here depicted as full of beauty and cruelty, however carefree and oppressed by the codes that structure and overwhelm it.

If sexuality has a preponderant importance in her work -may it be latent or asserted- it is due to the undeniable presence of bone under flesh. After Eros is Thanatos; signs of duality that depict the contradictions of life itself.

If her work is built on popular tales and imagery of our childhood, Bourdarel “makes-believe” in the innocence that addresses the essence of things; the cultural constructions that deal with humankind as much as they describe our societies.