Deal with it

Esthétiques de la réparation

Research project


support programme by

CARE et photographie: Que peut une image ? Esthétique de la réparation
Monday 21 november 2022
lecture, La Cambre, Bruxelles (BE)

CARE et photographie: workshop with Anna Püschel
Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 november 2022
workshop, La Cambre, Bruxelles (BE)

Photographic Practices as Care-Taking:The Pharmakon Image
Thursday 24 and Friday 25 november 2022
paper presentation, UiT Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø (NO)

Itinéraires de réparation: moss in conversation with Estefanía Peñafiel Loaiza
Wednesday 14 december 2022
lecture, Beaux-Arts de Paris (FR)

Workshop with Hideyuki Ishibashi
Tuesday 24 january 2023
workshop, Lycée Professionnel Louise de Bettignies, Cambrai (FR)

moss collective and Livia Melzi in conversation with Béatrice Josse
Thursday 25 may 2023
lecture, Institut pour la photographie, Lille (FR)

Considering images both as bearers of different forms of real or symbolic violence and as interfaces for individual or collective repair, Deal with it – Esthétique de la réparation examines the curative aspect inherent in certain visual arts gestures in artistic practices, which act as tools of resistance. Erasure, covering, repetition, cropping, glitch, collection, imprint, collage, and even reconstitution, the multiple actions carried out by the artists on the body of images resemble attempts at conjuration and appropriation.

Physical or dematerialised, images can be personal, found, from archives, or amateur images circulating online. These distinct gestures then act as micro-actions of individual resistance to events and general media overload. Also participating in a recovery/showcasing of parallel images or narratives, they contribute to repairing a form of cultural forgetting and erasure, in order to change dominant narratives and representations.

As Legacy Russell points out in her book Glitch Feminism, ‘remixing (…) is a technology of survival’. Through close dialogue with a selection of artists who consider and heal images, this research project studies these different processes of resistance via images, within which the latter act as a pharmakon, both remedy and poison. 


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{Research Process}


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︎ Repair ︎


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︎ Reconstruction ︎


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´Behind every image is a relationship´

Note from an interview with Eva Giolo, april 2024


Six questions about care and resistance: Léa Belooussovitch

How would you define the notion of care in the context of your practice?

In my practice, I would say that the notion of care could be related equally to materials, subjects and plastic gestures. Textile is very present in my work, as a support to receive textual sources or images: I often employ non-woven textiles (felt, mops, single-use cloths, etc.) which have strong capacities of absorption for matter and sound. I see it a bit like a bandage, blotting paper that soak up a vulnerability or an injury.
Also by means of cropping and reframing existing images, by eliminating areas of the image, it is as if the image were purified and therefore “cured”; often in my works, we don't see anything directly violent, the violence is located offscreen, in a text or in the abstract content, in a way this is also a form of visual care.
The subjects that I address, such as the last wishes of prisoners sentenced to death, the wives of accused criminals, or animals mistreated by men, are innocent witnesses of a tainted humanity, and offering them the central stage in my work is my way of taking care of them.

Léa Belooussovitch, Perp Walk (Handkerchief) detail (2019)
Photographic print on marbled velvet
Photo © Gilles Ribero

How would you define the notion of resistance in the context of your practice? Would you say this is a concept that applies to your work? What are you resisting?

This is not necessarily the first notion that I think of when I create my pieces, but it is true that in my series of drawings on felt we could speak of a resistance to disappearance, to trauma, to the image-reine... in my other works, perhaps we can talk about resistance to injustice, resistance to the image-as-proof, resistance to violence in general.

Léa Belooussovitch, Ejere, Ethiopie, 10 mars 2019 (Ethiopian airlines 302) (2020)
Drawings with colour pencils on felt
Photo ©Gilles Ribero

How do care and resistance intersect within your projects? Is caring a form of resistance? Is resisting a way to take care?

As an image producer, I try through my works to face the monster Image: to apprehend it and probe it in its worst aspects, as one learns to know their enemy well. In opposition to the cruelty the Image can carry within itself, and its most incisive, intransigent, accusatory, dramatic sides, I put in place strategies of gentleness, repair, resilience, anonymization, enhancement of misplaced vulnerability; in a sense we can say this is a form of resistant reaction, a humane wish to take care of the irreparable.

Léa Belooussovitch, The Blue Wall of Silence - Anonymous Witnesses (2019)
Serie of 24 images.
The original images are screenshots taken from amatorial videos documenting instances of police brutality, the victims have been digitally erased.

What is for you the role of images and their power, or their limits, in this process?

Images are limitless, I think. It is the man who, through censorship, editorial choice, restriction, computer tools, constrains it. We see it today with the beginnings of A.I: very soon, it will be equally difficult to prove that an image is true as to prove that it is false: I find this issue fascinating because at its core it is an issue of Truth, in the philosophical sense of the term. If we don't constrain the image, the image will devour us completely, the monster we have created will be uncontrollable and it is not impossible to imagine democracies crumble in the aftermath, for example, or entire populations take refuge into different versions of reality. The image can end up destroying the notion of truth and I find that very dangerous. I think it's a monster that needs to be contained so it doesn't devour everything in its path.

Is it possible to resist images through images?

I think you can twist them, manipulate them, question them, by touching them directly. For me, images are matter: a material that can be transformed, modeled, drawn, used, retouched, cut, printed, projected, etc. It is an immaterial material which is not structured like a language, however, it is through them that we communicate, and we have yet to learn how to read them, how to "speak image". Images are light, are pixels, are infinitely prolific, they are floating and everywhere around us, like particles. What is paradoxical is that without men, the Image would not exist.
The animal instead is free from this yoke.

Léa Belooussovitch, Jodhpur, Inde, 23 mai 2018 (2019)
Triptyc, Drawings with colour pencils on felt
Photos © Gilles Ribero

Is the violence of the gestures you employ (rubbing the pencil on felt, cropping, erasing)a response to the violence of the original images you manipulate? Do you think these gestures can paradoxically offer a form of reparation?

It’s a form of reaction, yes, a little revenge towards the Image. I felt a need to remove certain intolerable elements (as I did in The Methods, Blue Wall of Silence) in order to transform the very meaning of the image, to deceive it, to amputate it. By changing its meaning, the image says something different, something more vulnerable; in a way it is as if these gestures applied to the image serve as a means to change its meaning. Rubbing the pencil on the felt may seem a little aggressive, but at the same time it’s also an emphatic and a purging action: it’s like injecting the violence of the trauma directly into the fibers, and discard it there to be able to step into resilience.

Léa Belooussovitch,  Les Méthodes (2015)
A series investigating how acts of violence are administered: the original photographs depicts executions in countries that still apply the death penalty in public.
The executioners are present in the photographs while those accused have been removed.

Six questions sur le soin et la résistance: Léa Belooussovitch

Comment définiriez-vous la notion de soin dans le contexte de votre pratique?

Dans ma pratique, je dirais que la notion de soin pourrait s’apparenter à la fois aux matériaux, aux sujets et aux gestes plastiques. Le textile est très présent, en tant que support de réception de sources textuelles ou d’images : souvent ce sont des textiles non tissés (feutre, serpillières, torchons à usage unique..) qui ont de fortes capacités d’absorption, à la fois de la matière mais aussi sonore. Je les vois un peu comme des pansements, des buvards qui s’imprègnent d’une vulnérabilité ou d’une blessure.
Par des actes aussi de recadrage dans des images existantes, en éliminant des zones de l’image, c’est comme si l’image en était épurée et donc « guérie »; souvent dans mes oeuvres, on ne voit rien de directement violent, la violence se situe hors champ, dans un texte ou dans le contenu, en ce sens c’est aussi une forme de soin visuel.
Les sujets que j’aborde, comme par exemple les dernières volontés de condamnés à mort, les femmes de criminels accusées, ou les animaux malmenés par les hommes, sont des sujets toujours empreints d’une humanité bafouée, une innocence, et leur donner la place centrale d’une oeuvre est une manière de prendre soin d’eux.

Léa Belooussovitch, Perp Walk (Hood) (2019)
Impression photo sur velours marbré
Photo © Gilles Ribero

Comment définirais-tu la notion de résistance dans le cadre de ta pratique ?  Dirais-tu que c’est un concept qui s'applique à tes travaux ? Contre quoi tu résistes?

Ce n’est pas forcément la première notion à laquelle je pense lorsque je crée les oeuvres, mais c’est vrai que dans mes dessins sur feutre on pourrait parler d’une résistance à la disparition, au traumatisme, à l’image-reine.. dans mes autres pièces, peut-être une résistance à l’injustice, à l’image-preuve, à la violence de manière générale.

Léa Belooussovitch, Ejere, Ethiopie, 10 mars 2019 (Ethiopian airlines 302) (2020)
Dessins aux crayons de couleur sur feutre
Photo ©Gilles Ribero

Quelle serait pour toi l’articulation entre soin et résistance et quelle forme cela prend dans tes projets ? Prendre soin est-il une forme de résistance ? Résister est-il une façon de prendre soin?

Face au monstre Image et en tant que productrice d’images, je dirais que je tente par mes oeuvres de lui faire face, de l’appréhender et le sonder sous ses pires aspects, comme on apprend à bien connaître son ennemi. En opposition au cruel, au côté incisif, immédiat, intransigeant, accusateur, dramatique que peut porter en elle l’Image, les stratégies que je mets en place sont plutôt de l’ordre de la douceur, de la réparation, résilience, l'anonymisation, mise en valeur de la vulnérabilité qui a pu être égarée; en ce sens on peut dire que c’est une forme de réaction résistante, dans un axe d’humanité et de prendre soin de l’irréparable.

Léa Belooussovitch, The Blind side (2019)

Quel est pour toi le rôle de l’image et leur pouvoir - ou leurs limites - dans ce processus ?

Les images sont sans limites, je pense. C’est l’homme qui par la censure, le choix éditorial, la restriction, l’outil informatique, la contraint. On le voit aujourd’hui avec les prémices de l’A.I : très bientôt, il sera aussi difficile de prouver qu’une image est vraie que de prouver qu’elle est fausse : je trouve cette question fascinante car elle met au coeur le problème de la Vérité, au sens philosophique du terme. Si l’on ne contraint pas l’image, l’image va nous dévorer complètement, le monstre que nous avons crée sera alors incontrôlable et par exemple, il n’est pas impossible de voir s’écrouler les démocraties, de voir des populations s’engouffrer dans des versions différentes de la réalité; l’image peut finir par anéantir la notion de vérité et je trouve cela très dangereux. Je pense que c’est un monstre qui doit être contenu afin qu’il ne dévore pas tout sur son passage.

Est-ce possible de résister aux images par le biais des images elles-même ?

Je pense que l’on peut la tordre, la manipuler, la questionner, en la touchant directement. Pour moi les images constituent une matière. Une matière qui peut être transformée, modelée, dessinée, utilisée, retouchée, coupée, imprimée, projetée… c’est une matière immatérielle, qui n’est pas structurée comme un langage. Pourtant, c’est par elles que nous communiquons, et nous n’avons pas appris à les lire, à "parler image". Les images sont lumière, sont pixels, sont prolifiques à l’infini, elle sont flottantes et partout autour de nous, comme des particules. Ce qui est paradoxal, c’est que sans l’homme, l’Image n’existerait pas. L’animal lui, est libre de ce joug.

Léa Belooussovitch, The Blue Wall of Silence - Anonymous Witnesses (2019)
Serie of 24 images. The original images are screenshots taken from amatorial videos documenting instances of police brutality, the victims have been digitally erased.

La violence des gestes (frotter le crayon sur le feutre, recadrer, effacer) est-elle une réponse à la violence des images à partir desquelles tu travailles ? Comment expliquerais-tu que ces gestes offrent paradoxalement une forme de réparation ?

C’est une forme de réaction, oui, ou une petite vengeance envers l'Image. Une sorte de besoin d’enlever certains éléments intolérables (Les Méthodes ou Blue Wall of Silence par exemple) afin de transformer la signification même de l’image, de la tromper, de l’amputer. En changeant son sens, elle dit autre chose de plus vulnérable, en quelque sorte c’est comme si ces gestes appliqués aux images servaient de moyen pour changer leur sens. En frottant le crayon sur le feutre, c’est un peu agressif mais en même temps emphatique et purgatoire : c’est comme injecter par le geste la violence du traumatisme pour s’en débarrasser à l’intérieur des fibres, et entrer dans la résilience.

Léa Belooussovitch,  Les Méthodes (2015)
A series investigating how acts of violence are administered: the original photographs depicts executions in countries that still apply the death penalty in public.
The executioners are present in the photographs while those accused have been removed.

Léa Belooussovitch: The Hunt (2016)

︎ Read about this work on the artist´s website

Les Rencontres d’Arles:
Annegret Soltau

From the exhibition A Feminist Avant-Garde, Photographs and Performances of the 1970’s from the Verbund Collection, Vienna

Kader Attia: notions of Repair 

Kader Attia, Untitled (2017)

A major matter in Kader Attia’s work is his notion of Repair. Working around complex collective memories using ideas around recovery and repair, Attia has been developing his concept of Repair in his writings and visual oeuvre. 

'Repair', in his view, is an underground and constant process that is inextricably linked to the chaos of pain and trauma and the restorative capacity in people, nature, culture, myth and history. 

“ Repair” is an endless oxymoron; it carries both, the notion of destruction and reconstruction within the same terminology. It took me years of observations and investigations to understand that ‘repair’ is the core reason (“la raison d’être”) of the existence of “reappropriation”, and that in fact, it applies to culture as much as to nature. ”

︎ Kader Attia, Mimesis as resistance (2013)

This idea of Repair may appear as tangible and visible, taking for example the 'gueules cassées' of World War I, but is also mirrored in the restorative and resisting potential of a colonised community, where Repair becomes the natural answer to a torn social-political fabric. 

Kader Attia, Untitled (2017) from the exhibition Repairing the Invisible, SMAK (2017). 

In Western view, to repair is synonymous to restore: it aims to return the injured, broken or torn object or subject to its earliest state, without leaving any traces that change might have occured. Attia, however, envisions Repair as opposite of this rationalist vision of burning old bridges behind us in order to move forward. On the contrary, here, the memory of the trauma preceding the repair persists within the 'repaired', like sutures do. These sutures are literally reflected, for example, in the Japanese art of Kintsugi, where broken pottery is visibly repaired with gold or silver glue.

Such examples tell us that whatever is in need of healing/repair, the process of repair and who or what has undergone this process, is all of equal value. The trauma, Greek for injury, is not ignored, neither forgotten.

In his video Réfléchir La Mémoire, the artist directly links phantom pain- the perception that one experiences relating to a limb that is not physically part of their body - to pain caused by collective trauma. In the video, we see people silently sitting or standing. A mirror is placed next to them, so at first glance nothing seems to be going on. But when the camera moves slightly, we see that they are missing limbs, where before this absence was completed by the mirror.  A man appears to be praying with two hands, but from above we see that the hand in the mirror misses an entire arm. These images are interspersed with interviews with experts - professors in socio-cultural fields, as well as surgeons, neurologists and psycho-analysts. They are often representatives of a community familiar with trauma, motivating that the physical pain in missing limbs resonates the same sad harmony as a traumatised community, burdened by occupation, (cultural) genocide and colonialism. Just like the people in the video, a traumatised community experiences a loss, an everyday absence of something that is no more, but has been. Here, a phantom arrives, becoming like a 'traumatic ghost, haunting them'. 

Kader Attia, Reflecting Memory (2016)