Marie Bovo

La luz o la sombra

Exhibition opening 02.03.2023, 18.00-20.00

- Text by Béatrice Andrieux (translation by Jack Cox)

Marie Bovo, whose family is from a village near Grenada, was marked by the religious icons of her childhood. The sculptures, texts, and colours that she saw in the churches fascinate her. She takes a direct approach in her work, lifting ordinary reality out of its continuum, rendering it holy. This ode to the everyday already appears in earlier series of hers, like Cours intérieures.

For her fourth exhibition at OSL Contemporary, Marie Bovo is pursuing this spiritual dimension with a new series of photographs made in November 2021 during a residency at Valparaiso. The diptychs of La luz o la sombra were taken at dawn and at sunset, continuing until nightfall. These moments of ambivalent light, which Bovo has captured like epiphanic instants, evoke the magic of emergence, the fleeting apparition in which everything is illuminated: ‘But these moments are discreet, fragile, like the fleeting immobility of the dog emerging from the mist in the diptych, Este sistema esta mal.’ (1)

And while Bovo perceived a family resemblance between this city in Chile and her hometown of Marseille—both working-class port cities—Valparaiso contained other stories which she went looking for. An indefatigable walker, she covered the landscape with her view camera in tow, from the hills to the port, in order to immerse herself deeper in the city. She read and watched films, following the thread of the poetry of Oscar Hahn, Pablo Neruda’s odes to the mundaneness of life, and the aura of the photographer Sergio Larrain, which wound itself into her encounters with the place. The diptychs were made in the neighbourhood of Playa Ancha and offer up a kaleidoscope of possible perceptions of what constitutes the city. Wild dogs, the soul of Valparaiso, together with pigeons and graffiti trace divergent trajectories within public space. For Marie Bovo, ‘There are voices and tactics of resistance that baffle the social order, reappropriate space and its use for other narrations, other landscapes’.

Her artistic approach blurs the city’s vulnerability with her own work. There is a beautiful association in this direction in her 2019 series En Suisse – Le Palais du roi, exhibited at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris in 2020, for which Bovo photographed a kebab shop in Marseille that was internally decorated with a ceramic frieze from 1895. The heritage-listed ceramics told the story of the mythical foundation of Marseille, the meeting of Gyptis and Protis, appearing like an echo of the history of the people who used the fast-food restaurant and its area: their diverse backgrounds, a division of labour between the those who had been colonised and those born with a silver spoon in their mouths, the closeness of the port and the sea. These since-vanished ceramics remind us of the whole history of the Mediterranean, all those multiple voices, those travellers, those fragments of decayed, forgotten, daily life that make up the world.

Suspended somewhere between the familiar and the sacred, Marie Bovo’s work over-whelms us with the effects of light that are an essential, foundational aspect of her practice. Her reflections on time and the experience of territory have traversed her photographic writing for many years. She has mobilised all the acuteness of her vision in order to show the rapture of traces, human beings’ ambiguous relationship to our environment, and the comfort to be found in manifestations of the animal.

(1) Marie Bovo

Marie Bovo was born in 1967 in Alicante, Spain, and lives and works in Marseille, France. Her work has been the focus of several exhibitions in France and internationally, such as Les Recontres de la photographie, Arles (2017); La Chambre, Strasbourg (2016); Fondation Fernet-Branca, Saint-Louis (2016); UCR/California Museum of Photography, Riverside, CA (2016); FRAC PACA, Marseille (2015); Institut Français, Madrid (2014); KaviarFactory, Henningsvær (2013); Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris (2010); Centre de Création Contemporaine, Tours (2009); Maison de la Photographie, Toulon (2009); Luìs Serpa Projectos, Lisbon (2008); and Ateliers de la Ville de Marseille, Musée de Marseille (2007). Her work was presented at the Palazzo Zenobio as part of the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011 and was part of the inaugural show with Per Barclay at the Kaviar Factory, Lofoten in 2013. In 2016, Bovo was nominated for New York’s ICP Infinity Awards. In 2020, Bovo presented a solo exhibition at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris.

Bovo’s work is represented in central private and public collections, including those of Fonds national d’art contemporain (FNAC), Paris; Maison Européenne de la photographie, Paris; Le Grand Hornu, Boussu, Belgium; Les Collections de Saint-Cyprien, Saint-Cyprien; California Museum of Photography, Riverside, CA; and FRAC, Marseille.

Béatrice Andrieux is an independent curator and art critic since 2006. She began at Galerie Zabriskie in Paris and New York. From 2011 to 2014, she participated in the move of Paris Photo at the Grand Palais and the launch of Paris Photo in Los Angeles. Director of a Swiss Festival in 2015, she invited Georges Rousse to create a work in situ and Edgar Martins to use the exhibition rooms of the Château de Gruyères. She was invited to the Rencontres d’Arles in 2017 for a group show «Levitt France, a suburbian utopia». In 2018, she was artistic director of the «Photography Show» in New York.

In 2019 she was guest curator at the CRP/ Hauts de France to work on its collection and in 2020 at the Maison de l’Amérique Latine in Paris with Miguel Rothschild. In 2021/2022, she curated three solo exhibitions in Paris : Raphael Gianelli-Meriano, Claire Adelfang and Corinne Mercadier. In 2022, she was a guest curator at Fondation A in Brussels around women artists with a catalogue published with rm edition. She is currently working on a solo of Paz Errazuriz in Paris and a solo show of Philippe Ramette in South of France for 2023. She co-wrote with Quentin Bajac and Michel Richard, « Lucien Hervé/Le Corbusier Contacts» published at Seuil in 2011. Holder of a DEA in Aesthetics (Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne), she regularly collaborates with the Ideat Magazine and the Quotidien de l’Art.