Creation: Théodora Barat Artist-in-Residence at La Petite Escalère
« Ils allaient obscurs, dans la nuit solitaire »…1
In 2014, artist Théodora Barat spent a month at La Petite Escalère, a sculpture garden located in south-western France along the Adour River, for a research and creation residency. With “Terrain”, in which film, sculpture and installation come together, bringing narration to one, volume to the other, Théodora Barat’s work is immersed into a night where contours and depths are redefined by artificial light and where Ballard’s science fiction, Corman’s cinema and Smithson minimalism meet. In the film presented here and created during her residency for Sculpture Nature, Théodora Barat makes us discover the garden. Everything starts with the sound – the footsteps which accompany the swift approach of the camera, the creaking of the ground, the bending branches, a few nocturnal hoots. The camera searches, gropes around in complete darkness, guided only by a pale, narrow light, splattering in a halo on the vegetation it hits. Mysterious, incomplete shapes – maybe a few of the garden’s regular visitors will recognize some of the outdoor sculptures from its collection – which appear furtively, like monsters out of the “descent to the underworld” of Virgil’s Aeneid. No spatial or temporal point of reference to reassure us. No aim or destination to give meaning to these visions – this film is a horizontal, depthless, fascinating dive.
Born in 1985, Théodora Barat studied at the School of Fine Arts in Nantes where she primarily focused on projection and video installation. In 2010, she entered le Fresnoy – National studio of contemporary arts – where she directed her first film, Or Anything at All Except the Dark Pavement, a silent dollying shot in 16mm and a free adaptation of a text by Tony Smith where he recounts a night trip on a highway under construction. This film was selected in numerous festivals such as Les rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid, IndieLisboa, Côté court, as well as Boston Video Art Her installations and sculptures are displayed in places such as Glassbox (Paris), La Fabrique (Toulouse, France), Contemporary Art Center (Vilnius, Lituania), LABoral (Gijón, Spain). She takes part in many creation residencies, among which Glassbox, La Petite Escalère, Pollen (Monflanquin), le CNES-Observatoire de l’espace and Côté Court, where she won the artist residency award in 2012 for her film Panorama zéro, which also received the 2014 Expérience du festival de court-métrage award in Nice. In 2015, Théodora Barat was pre-selected for the Prix Découverte des Amis du Palais de Tokyo in Paris. In 2016, she received the Audi Talent Award for her project “Learning from New Jersey” in the contemporary art category.
La Petite Escalère
The gardens of La Petite Escalère host a large collection of modern and contemporary artwork. This private site allows a unique dialogue between sculpture and nature and is dedicated to promote creation, research and exchange around and about art and landscape. Twice a year, La Petite Escalère welcomes multidisciplinary artists and researchers – visual artists, writers, illustrators, exhibition curators… – for research and creation residencies, thus offering them a privileged setting to work on ongoing or new projects. La Petite Escalère is a member of the French federation of artist residencies, Arts en résidence – Réseau National .
1 Virgile, Enéide : “ They went mysteriously, into the solitary night… ”