Silvie Defraoui studied painting at the School of Fine Arts in Algiers and then ceramics at the École des arts décoratifs in Geneva. After a period working alone, she teamed up with Chérif Defraoui. Between 1975 and 1994 the couple pursued a reflection on the image, on its status and meaning in a society where visual reproductions had been circulating for centuries and where their production was growing ever more intensive. After Chérif’s death, Silvie Defraoui continued to work within the framework of the research project they had established together, Archives du futur.
This video applies one of their principles, that of reusing pre-existing images and showing them in a new light. Against a black ground, a ball of glossy paper is thrown onto a table and opened by two gloved hands, gradually revealing the contents of the photograph. The crumpled paper is taken away and another piece thrown in, another image revealed. The action is repeated with a single variation: some of the images are set on fire. The procedure, reminiscent of earlier videos, is certainly simple, but it seems to involve some kind of illusion. Hence the viewer’s growing fascination and interest in the rustling and crumping of the paper, which is the only sound.
Like a slide show, the successive photographs are taken from the press, forming a kind of collective memory of current events (war, seal hunting, famine, etc.). Each one seems familiar but it is impossible to identify a precise place, date or situation: everything happens too fast for us to really recognise them. Defraoui digs into the folds of our memory (‘plis’) and brings back to consciousness some of the countless images we consume and forget every day, then makes them disappear again (‘replis’).
Exposé actuellementThe Collection
Christoph Kihm and Christopher Vögele, Silvie Defraoui und überdies Projektionen (Archives du future), exh. cat. Solothurn, Kunstmuseum, Zurich, edition fink, 2014.
Denys Zacharopoulos, Daniel Kurjakovic and Konrad Bitterli, Defraoui. Archives du futur 1975-2004, exh. cat. St. Gallen, Kunstverein, St. Gallen, Kunstmuseum, Geneva, Mamco, Thessalonique, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Nuremberg, Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2014.
Daniel Kurjaković and Marie-Louise Lienhard, Silvie Defraoui. Nacht und Tag und Nacht. Night and Day and Night, exh. cat. Zurich, Helmhaus, Zurich, Memory/Cage Editions, 2000.