Catherine Gfeller’s sensory cocktail at the RX Gallery
Patrice Huchet

#PARIS The RX gallery presents Catherine Gfeller’s kaleidoscopic visions in megacities.“China Drinftings” is avibrant pulse of cities with humanity in the Chinese shadow.

For thirty years, Catherine Gfeller has been developing a practice that combines photographs, videos and sound installations, in which women and the city play a predominant role. With a communicative energy, she translates through her compositions, obtained through successive montages, superpositions and collages, a universe that is both close to and far from reality

The first room dedicated to him by the RX gallery presents a series produced from 2001 to 2006 in New York. His multi-compositions mounted as a sequential work testify to the pulsating effervescence of an urban crowd in the streets of New York. The passers-by come to infinity, some at a slow pace, others at speed, melted with those who still take the time to stop. A reality that Catherine Gfeller captures and reinterprets in the manner of an urban dream.

Her approach comes from the cinema, she puts her camera in the street and captures the pulse of the city. Then, back home, in a second phase of work, she digs into the multitude of video images and selects after a long editing process still images that will provide the raw material for these compositions. She thus combines the techniques of film editing, photographic sandwich and collage. The artist then transforms herself into a composer to translate not only what she has seen, but also what she has heard and felt. The exploration of reality then takes various paths in which the immersive dimension remains fundamental. Drifting, getting lost in the streets, so many ways to let the city reinvent us. A whole sensory cocktail

In the main room, the last series, Dérives chinoises, evokes at the same time the desire to discover, to feel and to free oneself from one’s own emotions. Catherine Gfeller finds in Chinese megacities the effervescence of New York with a particular fascination, linked to the loss of landmarks, different life codes and an exciting energy that awakens her instincts and all her senses

Taking up the human motif in the Chinese shadow, the difference in gaze between the two series is nevertheless surprising. While in the series New York, a city where Western individualism reigns supreme, the human being stands out as a crowd. In the megalopolises of the middle country, where collectivism has long been a major doctrine, the human figure appears as a fictional female character, a kind of playful and poetic double

The panoramic formats are like friezes, film sequences shots where this figure becomes the link between nature or the city and humans, an Asian and feminine version of the guardian angel that recalls the angels of Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders, another cinematographic reference. In this series, the initial frenzy seems to have subsided.

In the film “Woman Night”, women contacted by Catherine Gfeller walk around their city. From behind or in profile, with their eyes closed, they tell the story of the neighbourhood she cherishes. Catherine Gfeller mixes her own interpretations and creates her own narratives inspired by her intuitions, her feelings, read in voice-over. These sequences thus become the “disguised” portraits of these women.

Catherine Gfeller says she is photographing the city faster than its shadow, certainly Chinese.

Catherine Gfeller, a Swiss artist, lives and works in Paris and the South of France. After a Master’s degree in art history and a CAPES, she developed her artistic activity in New York City where she lived for 5 years. She moved to Paris in 1999 and won the HSBC Foundation Prize for Photography. Since 1988, his work has been exhibited in France and in many countries, including the Crac de Sète, the Kunstmuseum in Lucerne, the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne, the W.A.M. in Johannesburg, the Musée d’Art de Guangzhou (China), the Musée National de Kiev (Ukraine) and the Centre Culturel Suisse in Paris.


CHINA DRIFTINGS by Catherine Gfeller

1er december 2018 – 10 January 2019

Commissioner: Béatrice Andrieux

RX Gallery

16 rue des Quatre Fils

75003 Paris