Sheeps don’t forget a face

Morgane Denzler
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Bendana | Pinel Art Contemporain is pleased to present Morgane Denzler’s third solo exhibition « Sheeps don’t forget a face » at the gallery.

« To compose is to compose a common time, through regular habits, moments, rhythms, sequences that succeed one another. But above all, a way to live and deal with them. »

Vinciane Despret & Michel Meuret – Composer avec les moutons (2016)

Since 2010, Morgane Denzler has been thinking about the territory and how people understand it, know it and practice it. With a plastic, conceptual, sociological and political approach, the artist appropriates space control tools such as cartography and geolocation. At Bendana | Pinel Art Contemporain, she brings together four works conceived and realized in a specific context: the artistic residence of the Arques in the Lot. Invited to reflect on the agricultural realities of the village and its surroundings, Morgane Denzler envisions the territory in a new and unprecedented way in her research. After reading the writings of Vinciane Despret (philosopher of science) and various meetings with sheep breeders, she decided to focus on sheep: their history, their behavior, their uses, their needs. The works thus articulate a set of interactions and interdependencies between the animal, the human and the territory they inhabit and on which they act together.

The meeting with the animal and its flock led to other encounters: shepherds, breeders, craftsmen, shearers. Morgane Denzler has thus interfered with the sheep ecosystem to understand more comprehensively the history and current state of a peasant world in crisis. The cover (Remembrement, 2018) brings together the animal, the human and the territory. Sewn and made in collaboration with a quilting craftsman (René Lantz), it is padded with the wool of its own sheep. The raw material is at hand. On its surface appears the satellite image of Arques and its surroundings. The place of the research is thus represented, localized, specified. The seams are not orthonormed, the grid is not perfect. Intentional blunders echo Remaking, a productivist remodeling of the rural world that intensified during the 1960s and 1980s. To adapt to mechanization, farmers have more or less integrated a model resulting from a European policy to unify the parcel. This new design of territories creates a profound transformation of landscapes and soils. It also marks violence, a spirit of competition and the end of solidarity. (Sheeps don’t forget a face, 2018) also refers to a rationalization of land. The artist photographed breeders at work, herds, landscapes (especially seen from the sky). In the manner of a collage, the images are entangled and partially concealed by the presence of an aluminum barrier. The barrier is both a security tool, an element of constraint of the bodies in a given space and the visible sign of a property.

In the second space of the gallery are presented two works facing each other: VENE and Champion. The first is made from peasants' work clothes, a green suit that has become common to all. By attaching two combinations to each other, Morgane Denzler shows the metaphor of a peasant's skin. Like a fleece or a dissected body, it is deployed on the wall. Approaching it we find that the fabric is strewn with logos: VENE. « Come » in Occitan, a traditional call to the flock. Morgane Denzler highlights the contractual and / or dependency relationships between intensive practices and the agri-food industry. This system, aimed at extreme productivism, has led a large part of the peasant world to a state of extreme fragility. In counterpoint, Champion (2018) presents Loïc Leygonie, professional shearer of sheep, but also French champion of mowing. In the Lot, Morgane Denzler filmed a fleece throw, which, in a competition, is scored by a jury according to very specific criteria. Broadcast in the form of a GIF, the video forms a loop, a vital momentum that manifests the movement of gestures and know-how. Mowing, an act necessary for the survival of the sheep, has also become a sport, a collective ritual where the gestures of work find new resonance.

Sheep do not forget a face. Contrary to popular belief, the animal has a sharp social intelligence that allows him to memorize a face for two years. Through it, Morgane Denzler emphasizes a shared memory between the animal, the breeder and the territory. The sheep literally eats the landscape. His travels shape and compost his environment. Eating "is a way of living, of giving value above all. This is the word that brings together many elements of the situation: to give value. We would say honor. And transform humans and ewes into Terrans, to finally uproot this old contrast between human and non-human” . The works bear witness to a physical relationship to the territory. They deal more with a slow transformation of the peasant world rather than a disappearance. Morgane Denzler is thus attached to the concepts of care and memory deeply inscribed in the bodies, gestures and resistances of an ecosystem in revolution.

Julie Crenn

* DESPRET, Vinciane ; MEURET, Michel. Composer avec les moutons – Lorsque des brebis apprennent à leurs bergers à leur apprendre. Avignon : Cardère Editeur, 2016, p.115-116.

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