Marie Bovo


OSL contemporary is proud to present the exhibition Alger, featuring works by French artist Marie Bovo. The show comprises 15 photographs from her latest series, produced within a limited time period in November 2013; all within the same central corner apartment in the Algerian capital; all recording the same single motif of an open balcony door mediating between the indoor and outdoor spaces within the camera frame. Each exposure appears immersed in visual silence; proportions and compositional qualities are repeated with great formal stability. Nevertheless, movement pervades the series as a leading motif, in between exposures, as the shifting lights of the hours radically transform the sense of colour and atmosphere from one image to the next.

The photographs further a recurring theme and technical preference within Bovo's production, in which the rules of presentation adhere to minimal intervention; to the bare, austere record of a place, refusing the anecdotal. Sources of light are rendered with precision and detail, preserving the natural chromatic effects as fluorescent, cool and warm lamplights mix with darkness and daylight. As in Bovo's previous work, human subjects are absent from the photographs. Recording a specific place in sequences separated and named by intervals in time, time itself emerges as the central subject matter, a protagonist that invokes a sense of infinite presence and sameness, in striking contrast to the decaying, tangible landscapes that change within it. As such, Bovo's exposures appear as frozen frames from an on-going film dramaturgically driven by the relentless exchange of day and night.

The urban still-life scenery of Alger, as well as the traces of human activity left in the viewing field, share many similarities with that of Bovo's previous projects, like the terraced roof tops of Cairo in Bab el Louk (2007) or the intimate back yards of Cour Intérieure (2009). But while these series provide open horizons and vast spaces, here, the head-on angle and narrowness of the Algerian streets condense the space and arrest the gaze. The point of view seems to create a fictional space enclosing the viewer, on the inside, looking out. A sense of voyeurism is suggested in the view towards "the other" of opposite windows and balconies, however that gaze is quickly thrown back. These facing walls and windows also reflect our own position within the surrounding architectural frameworks that supposedly shield inside from outside. The discrepancy between that exposed "over there" and our own "here" are blurred along with spatial and symbolic notions of interior and exterior, private and public, as the pictorial spaces collide and merge, exchange positions and absorb one another.

Works from Alger were first shown at Paris Photo in 2014, and subsequently at gallery kamel mennour in Paris along with a series of beaches, Jours Blancs, produced in cooperation with OSL contemporary in 2012. On the occasion of this exhibition, Bovo has printed a unique, large format edition from this project, which will be on view in the gallery's office space. Though most of her work is time and place specific, Bovo has continued to expand the series of beaches for which she was first noticed, and Jours Blancs is a series within that series. The works were shot in the UNESCO-listed Lofoten Islands of Norway, during the exceptional lighting conditions of the midnight sun. All Bovo's beaches are composed according to the same formal principles. Echoing the romantic landscape painting, the composition keeps strictly to a layered format, guiding the eye from the near and sizable to the inestimable distance. In the foreground of the frame, sharply outlined footprints, as well as items lost, left or stranded ashore, bear witness to local and immediate life, while the middle ground sea and unbroken horizon dissolve in the long exposure time, documenting the presence of natural forces. In this way the works trace the specifics of the confined present within the context of the endless, universal landscape of the sea and heavens.

Marie Bovo has exhibited widely in France and internationally. Her work has been presented at key institutions and events, such as the 54 Venice Biennale, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Centre de Création Contemporaine in Tours, Luis Serpa Projectos in Lisbon, Les Collections de Saint-Cyprien, the Maison de la Photographie in Toulon, the City of Marseille Ateliers, the (mac) Musée dÀrt Contemporain in Marseille, the Caszuidas Screen in Amsterdam, the Federation Square in Melbourne and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. FRAC of Marseille is currently presenting a major retrospective of her work. Bovo is represented in central private and public collections, including those of; fnac; Maison Européenne de la photo, Le Grand Hornu in Belgium, Les Collections de Saint-Cyprien and FRAC of Marseille.