This catalogue accompanies the exhibition by Florence Lazar at the Jeu de Paume. It is also her first monograph.
Throughout the 1990s, Florence Lazar worked primarily within the genre of photographic portraiture; by the end of the decade, however, she had begun to incorporate video into her practice. Her choice of a new medium coincided with her desire to respond, as an artist, to the on-going crisis in Yugoslavia. Family and social ties to the former Yugoslavia had seen her follow the crisis intensely since it had broken out a decade earlier. The earliest work presented in the exhibition, Les Paysans (2000), is part of a cycle of documentary video and film works that chronicle attempts to establish individual and collective responsibility for the ensuing armed conflict. Since then documentary has remained at the forefront of her practice. In 2014, the cycle culminated in her third full-length film, also shown here, Kamen (Les Pierres), which reveals recent attempts – both religious and cultural – to rewrite the past in order to reinforce rather than combat the denial of collective responsibility. In 2008, she returned to her previous work in portraiture, which she combined with an innovative renewal of documentary photography. The resulting series documents printed ephemera from her father's political trajectory. Her young son serves in the series as both model and generational conduit, just as he does in the video Confessions d'un jeune militant, where he assists his grandfather in a commentary on the books that helped shape his intellectual formation. By shifting from one primary source of subject formation to another – from family to school, Florence Lazar produced a major series of 35 photographs inaugurated as a public work in 2016 for the Collège Aimé Césaire, a junior high school in Paris's eighteenth arrondissement. A tribute to the school's celebrated namesake in collaboration with the school's pupils, the series shows that an objective engagement with France's colonial past, far from perpetuating social and racial divisions or a sense of national guilt, can lead to a shared acknowledgement of history. Co-produced by the Jeu de Paume and presented here for the first time, Florence Lazar's most recent work, 125 hectares (2019), returns to the pastoral theme of Les Paysans. The video stems from a larger investigation begun in Martinique, Césaire's birthplace, on the long-term ecological and health effects of chlordecone (Kepone), a carcinogenic insecticide used for more than 20 years on the island's banana plantations. Taken from Césaire's play Une tempête – a postcolonial adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest – the title of the exhibition and publication evokes not only the ecological ravages of colonialism, but equally the emancipatory potential of history.
Published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition at the Jeu de Paume, Paris, from February 12 to June 2, 2019.
Florence Lazar (born in 1966 in Paris) is a French artist, videographer, film director, and photographer. She has exhibited at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2010). Over the past decade, her work has since been featured in a number of documentary film festivals, including the FID Marseille, the Cinéma du Réel in Paris, and the International Women Film Festival in Barcelona. She was awarded the Prix Qualité by the Centre National du Cinéma for her film Les Bosquets (2012) and first prize in the French Competition for her film Kamen (Les Pierres) at the Cinéma du Réel festival (2014). Her work is represented in numerous public collections in France, including the Musée de Grenoble, the Centre National des Arts Plastiques (CNAP), the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and the Musée National d'Art Moderne/Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou in Paris.