Julie Béna: Fantasy

The exhibition of Julie Béna, a French artist active on the Czech scene, gives an impressive overview of the main themes permeating her work to date.

In the world of commedia dell’arte, pantomime, cabaret and circus, in the world of fairy tales, as well as in animated movies, blockbusters and computer games, the characters are portrayed in clear strokes so as to be recognisable at first sight. Their character does not evolve, but represents a distinct attitude, mood and destiny. They go through the plot in one costume. We know what to expect from them. They act in order to make us follow the plot, the situational wit, the execution. We don’t bother about where they came from. However, their lack of ambiguity is disturbing in itself. Considering that they should be perfectly elegant, what if there is a toe sticking out of their sock? 

The poetics of emancipation in Julie Béna’s work, however, conceive her characters and their archetypes in the context of their former critical function, when such an artificial fairy tale or cabaret were spaces for radical questioning of the social order. In other cases, it reveals and questions the mechanisms that instil socially conforming ideas about the roles assigned to individuals. The exhibition of the French artist Julie Béna, who lives between Paris and Prague and teaches at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Brno, looks back at the basic characters and figures that have accompanied her during the twenty years of her creative practice, and develops their world in a series of new large-scale objects and a brand-new film, Dirty Shirley.