Rebecca Bournigault

lives and works in Paris

About Rebecca Bournigault ... more >

Rebecca Bournigault (b. 1970 in Colman, lives and works in Paris) is a contemporary portrait artist who works mainly with video, but also uses drawings, watercolours and photographs. She works with the portrait and the icon, two sides of the same coin, each referencing the real and the fictional, the model and the singular, taking care to constantly rearrange things in order to better re-examine their relationship to the Other.

In Bournigault's work, there is a constant tension between outside and inside, above and below, moon and sun, animal and plant. Do they love each other or tear each other apart? Does it come or is it "transverted"? And the blood, where does it come from? Where does it flow to? Is it still warm or already cold? And the music, where does it come from? Who permeates it?

Since the mid-1990s, the artist has been revealing the complexity of identity in a series of video portraits that cannot be reduced to the stereotypical discourses in reality and talk shows: By placing a visitor in front of a camera and a screen on which they discover a magnified projection of themselves (Real Time Portraits, 1994), or by asking people to describe their bodies, which explicates an awareness of the gaze of the other as volunteers describe almost exclusively visible parts (Body Portraits, 2001), she points to a latent form of violence at work through this imperative of confession, confronting the other and the world. The other facet is confession insofar as it is a production of truth by the subject, but this time in its intimacy.

Rebecca Bournigault develops machines to question the relationship between these discursive productions of truth. In her video Portraits Chansons (1992), nine people are filmed in a rigid shot while listening to a song chosen by the artist according to her idea of each individual's personality.

In Portraits je t'aime (1999), the artist asks people (especially relatives, a particular actor, often underground figures) to speak the words of love (a "je t'aime") into the camera. In a way - an exorbitant paradox of language - to say "I love you" is to pretend that there is no spoken theatre and that this word is always true (it has no referent other than its utterance: it is a performative). One then observes a series of reactions that invite the spectator, listener, television viewer, voyeur or curious person to witness the revealed intimacy that unveils the other both through their gestures, their stories and their silences. There are other silences that are deafening, like that of the video Loveless (2001), in which one sees the face of Rebecca Bournigault in close-up, with headphones on her ears, whispering a capella the song "Loveless" by New Order. One is touched by the fragility of the exposed voice.

Other motifs are also recurrent in Rebecca Bournigault's work: death, or more precisely vanity, lurks regularly, with watercolour skulls or the video installation La Chambre interdite (2005), which highlights the violence inherent in myths. The visitor is surrounded by four portraits of storytellers who simultaneously tell a fairy tale on the theme of "The Forbidden Chamber". Bluebeard is the French fairy tale.

Rebecca Bournigault also questions the use of testimony, and this testimony is sometimes provided by the subconscious, through her Tondo videos. The video Bend (2011-2012) unfolds both a march of regret and a Dadaist walk through the process, always with the aim of approaching reality with a renewed perspective. Blood (2013) plays with the chromatic confusion between superficial lipstick and monstrous menstruation. Two forms of submission. Pigment Painting (2014) restages the mixing of colours in a particular composite order, using urine as a binder. There is also Sea (2013), a video of a real couple rolling in the sand. Everything moves in a circle that could be equated with binocular vision because of its voyeuristic aspect, taking the opportunity to trip up scopic efficacy, to disrupt 4vision, to predispose it to a second state, to produce a mental image. When Rebecca Bournigault was challenged by the riots in France in November 2005, she sketched the outlines of a global body politic in crisis (Les Emeutiers, 2005-2011), while her tondo videos sketched the outlines of a fragmented, pluralistic, sometimes hysterical, but intimate body.

More recently, Rebecca Bournigault has returned to the motifs of language, filming her daughter shooting the word. She has four-year-old N.K. recite a muscular interjection (N.K, 2012). The aim of these little visual ufos is to bring the truth of the subject back to life by making reality stutter, by making language "stutter" (Deleuze).

PS: "It is a question of reaching the unknown by deregulating all the senses" (Arthur Rimbaud).

Julien Blanpied, December 2014


1970 born in Colmar
1993 Graduated from the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Bourges, D.N.A.P. / D.N.S.E.P
1999 Nominated for the Marcel Duchamp Prize, Paris
2002 Nominated for the Jalouse Prize, Paris
2005 Winner of the Belluard Award, Fribourg, Switzerland
Professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in Annecy
... more >

Selected Solo and Group Exhibitions

2022 Galerie Biesenbach, Cologne (S, online)
2021 Galerie NeC, Paris (S)
2020 Espace Diamant, Ajaccio (S)
2019 surfrider, Biarritz (S)
Galerie Biesenbach, Cologne (G)
2018 LaCriée, Marseille (S)
18th Art Center, Los Angeles (S)
Galerie Eva Hober, Paris (S)
Galerie de la Voute, Paris (G)
Casa Victor Hugo, Cuba (G)
2017 La Criée - Théâtre national de Marseille (S)
Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris (S)
Galerie Biesenbach, Cologne (G)
2016 Galerie Biesenbach, Cologne (G)
Galerie Dominique Fiat, Paris (G)
2015 Église Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul, Villenauxe-la-Grande (S)
Galerie Biesenbach, Cologne (G)
Institut francais Düsseldorf (S)
18th Art Center, Los Angeles (S)
2014 Galerie Biesenbach, Cologne (S)
Institut francais Cologne (S)
2013 Palais de Tokyo, Paris (G)
Galerie Biesenbach, Cologne (G)
Galerie d'Exposition du Théâtre, Privas (S)
Galerie Dominique Fiat, Paris (S)
Galerie Biesenbach, Cologne (G)
Galerie Dominique Fiat, Paris (G)
2012 Espace Saint Séverin, Paris (S)
Galerie Patricia Dorfmann (S)
Carrousel du Louvre, Paris (G)
2011 CAN, Neuchâtel (S)
Galerie Patricia Dorfmann, Paris (G)
Abbaye Saint-André, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Meymac (G)
L’Onde Centre d’Art, Vélizy-Villacoublay (G)
2010 Centre Pompidou, Paris (S)
Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Straßburg (G)
MAC/Val, Vitry-sur-Seine (G)
Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris (G)
2009 Galerie Desimpel, Brussels (S)
2008 Galerie Von Bartha, Basel (S)
Galerie Frédéric Giroux, Paris (S)
2007 Galerie Frédéric Giroux, Paris (S)
Galerie Desimpel, Brussels (S)
Atelier Neess, Paris (S)
2005 Palais de Tokyo, Paris (S)
Centre Culturel Français, Mailand (S)
Espace Frédéric Sanchez, Paris (S)
Galerie Almine Rech, Paris (S)
2001 Le studio Yvon Lambert, Paris (S)
Galerie Almine Rech, Paris (S)
2000 Espai Lucas, Valence (S)
1999 Galerie Almine Rech, Paris (S)
Galerie Marta Cervera, Madrid (S)
Les Beaux-Arts de Pau (S)
1998 Galerie Deux, Tokyo (S)
1997 Galerie Almine Rech, Paris (S)
Kunstmuseum UWM, Milwaukee (S)
1996 Galerie Paolo Vitolo, Milan (S)
1994 Centre d'Art Contemporain, Parc St.-Léger, Pougues les Eaux (S)

Selected Public and Private Collections

  • Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
  • Maison Européenne de la Photographie de la Ville de Paris
  • Fonds National d’Art Contemporain
  • FRAC Limousin
  • Bibliothèque Municipale de la Ville de Lyon
  • Collection Francois Pinault
  • Sammlung Bruno Bischofberger
  • Braunsfelder Family Collection
  • Sammlung Stéphane Biesenbach




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