Trained as a blacksmith, Caroline Achaintre draws her sources from worlds as eclectic as those of German expressionism, post-war British sculpture, commedia dell’arte, primitive arts, postmodern design and urban cultures (goth or metal music, B movies, science fiction). In her work, the artist uses traditional techniques – tufting, ceramics, basketry – to breathe life into the drawings from which all his works originate. Caroline Achaintre’s practice is marked by a constant back and forth between the second and third dimensions, operating fluidly in a relationship to time, sometimes long, sometimes short. At Le Capc, the artist conceived and designed all the constituent elements herself (pedestals, buttresses, architectural excrescences) of an environment in which large “tapestries” in coloured wool interact with wicker screens, watercolours and ceramics – all works with anthropomorphic qualities and, as a result, characters of a particular theatre.

Ulla von Brandenburg, Le milieu est bleu, 2020. Super-16-mm -film transferred on HD video (colour, sound)

“What is a community? The people does not exist in and of itself. I think we are all quite alone today. What do groups cohere around? Are there other possibilities for living?”

With this video shot on 16mm colour film, Ulla von Brandenburg transports the visitors into new surroundings. They find themselves in the Théâtre du Peuple in Bussang, a theatre built on a mountainside in the Vosges at the end of the 19th century to host theatrical festivities for the people. It is within this space infused with humanist ideals that Ulla von Brandenburg sets her performers, who sing a text inspired by the 1930 play The Deep-Sea Fish (Der Tiefseefisch) by Marieluise Fleisser (1901-1974). They act out a “micro-society, as if it were the last of its kind”: a living community cut off from the outside world, with its own economy, rules, and values. Their daily life is suddenly interrupted when one of the group’s members breaks with the ritual and opens the doors of the décor. They reveal to the spectator the specificity of the Bussang theatre – the back of the stage opens up directly onto the forest – and at the same time reveal to their community the possibility of contact with the outside world. The film offers at once a variation on ideas of loss, abandonment and flight, and a tale that reflects upon the themes of transgression and individual
responsibility within the collective.

At the end of the film, the members of the community disappear only to reappear within the Palais de Tokyo; the objects they bring with them become the works of the exhibition. Ulla von Brandenburg thus reveals the illusory nature of theatre and, like the bear that unexpectedly appears in her film, thrusts into the midst of our social organisation that which it strives to exclude: nature, and the unknown.

Ulla von Brandenburg, Le milieu est bleu, 2020
16mm colour film, HD video transfer, 23’43”

Courtesy of the artist and Art : Concept (Paris); Meyer Riegger (Berlin/Karlsruhe); Pilar Corrias Gallery (London); Produzentengalerie Hamburg

Director: Ulla von Brandenburg
Executive Producer: Julia Mossé
Dramaturg: Benoit Résillot
Choreography: Giuseppe Molino
Scenography: Valentina Dotti, Sabine Tarry, Julia Mossé, Julien Crépieux Accessories: Hannelore Lücke-Rausch, Fabienne Touzi dit
Terzi, Julien Crépieux, Adrien Collino, Charlotte Livine, Charles Poitevin Costumes: Valentina Dotti, Sabine Tarry, Julia Mossé, Clémence
Joly, Fanny Milone and with the support of the Opéra National de Paris
Music: Anna Holveck, Ulla von Brandenburg
Director of Photography: Laurent Coltelloni
Cameraman and Steadicam Operator: Eric Bialas
First Camera Assistant: Mathias Sabourdin
Head Electrician: Luis Peralta
Head Operator: Pierre Monneret
Production Co-Ordinator: Nicolas Galland
Technician-Electrician: Alban Thiébaut
Sound Engineer: Olivier Pelletier
Editing and Color grading: Nicolas Perret, Laurent Coltelloni
Postproduction: Alexandre Westphal
Equipment: Kodak France, Panavision Paris and Panalux Paris
Laboratory: Hiventy, Joinville-Le-Pont
Performers: Benoit Résillot, Giuseppe Molino, Laurence Mayor, Bianca Iannuzzi, Duncan Evennou, Larissa Emi, Jean-Marc Michels, Julia Mossé
Extras: Pauline-Alexandrine Deforge, Valentina Dotti, Anna Holveck, Ulla von Brandenburg, Sabine Tarry, Julien Crépieux, Alice Monneret, Pascal Alexandre, Aurélia Barraux, Maud Chasseux, Christine Frechin, Grégory Gillar, Alain Grivel, Maryvonne Hans, Pascalle Henry, Martial Imbault, Anne Jacquot, Laurence Joly, Céline Motte, Linda Nachtigall, Christine Peyrole, Catherine Poirot, Josette Prud’homme, Odile Rose, Evelyne Saint Dizier, Bénédicte Thiebaut
Catering: Pascal Bernard
Thanks to: Simon Delétang, Alice Trousset, Clélie Bagard and the team at the Théâtre du Peuple, Bussang ; Yoann Gourmel, Albane de Chatellus, Christine Neumeister, Marianne Lamour, Vincent Ferreira, Jessica Nourisson, Pierre-Marie Paubel, Matthieu Imbert


ARTISSIMA – Castello di Rivoli Illy Present Future 2013 Prize Exhibition

Skills Academy Fondation d’entreprise Hermès – Morning event April 6 2019 – Les Textiles @ Theatre Paris – Villette

Learning with artists – Caroline Achaintre Questions & Answers

Solo show FANTÔMAS @ De la Warr Pavillon / UK

Caroline Achaintre: Fantômas, De La Warr Pavilion.

For Fantômas, Achaintre made a series of new ceramics, accompanied by new wall hangings. She created the ceramics whilst undertaking a joint residency between the De La Warr Pavilion and West Dean College, an arts and conservation college founded by British poet Edward James, a keen art collector known for his patronage of the Surrealist movement.

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation artist in residence Caroline Achaintre on her artistic practice. The artist was an artist-in-residence at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation in 2018.

Caroline Achaintre solo show @ BALTIC Bites, Centre for Contemporary Art supported by Arts Council England & Gateshead Council

BALTIC’s major survey exhibition explored the breadth of Achaintre’s practice, comprising a selection of work from the last decade together with new work made specially for the exhibition.

Portrait of Pierre-Olivier Arnaud, winner Audi talents awards 2009, Contemporary Art category