Title: Anna, the Jester et les monstroplantes
Artists: Anna Hulačová, Julie Béna
Curator: Alice Motard
Venue: Centre européen d’actions artistiques contemporaines (CEAAC), Strasbourg,
Photos: Émilie Vialet
Marking the 10th anniversary of the Strasbourg <> Prague exchange programme, organised in partnership with MeetFactory and Institut français de Prague, this double exhibition by Anna Hulačová and Julie Béna (born in 1984 and 1982, live and work in Klučov and Prague) takes the shape of a dystopian ecological fable.
One is Czech, the other French, both live and work in Prague (or not far from it) and are pursuing an international artistic career.
Anna Hulačová creates figurative sculptures from a combination of natural and industrial materials, including clay, straw, wax, concrete and metal. With references ranging from Czech folklore to Brutalist architecture, her work frequently depicts hybrid creatures endowed with various attributes. Taking as its starting point the artist’s ecological concerns, it bears witness to her acute awareness of the effects of phenomena such as the collectivisation and industrialisation of land on the landscape.
Julie Béna stages tragic-burlesque performances in which she embodies avatars that can also be seen in her films and installations based on objects and texts. Here, she presents a series of three animated films in which a fictional character wearing a ruff and tricorne and named ‘the Jester’ – the artist’s alter ego, as it were – moves through parallel worlds where she grapples with themes of transparency, death and ecology. Shown on screens or as projections, these 3D videos with their disturbing message mingle with Hulačová’s mysterious characters, who populate futuristic scenes of rural life through which the artist questions intensive farming practices, highlighting their impact on the environment and biodiversity.
The fertile dialogue between two practices that embrace the vernacular – both as concerns its forms and concerns (Hulačová) and its ways of telling stories and addressing audiences (Béna) – produces an uncanny dystopian fable set against the backdrop of the current ecological crisis.