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Orla Barry - Delphine Bedel - Sylvie Eyberg

From Saturday 8 July to Saturday 19 August 1995

This group show, which was held at the Delme Synagogue in 1995, offers an unusual look at the young Belgian women’s art scene, oriented as it undeniably is towards a private and everyday reading of the world, based on a reappropriation of the imagery that rules our lives.

Orla Barry borrows the fodder for her thoughts from her Irish mother tongue and culture, both tried and tested by the artist's expatriate status, questioning their symbols and customs by way of a poetic prose that includes herself in the Irish tradition and art of story-telling- a tangible legacy left to her by her compatriots James Joyce and James Coleman.

With childlike naïvety, combined with an adult's lucidity, she unwinds the thread of our commonplace lives--our "tiny lives" as she calls them--using things taken in the raw state from daily life and put together like so many colliding languages. By handling genres like the portrait, the monologue, and the novella, she fuels her work with a canny admixture of biographical facts and fiction, mingling fortuitous thoughts and excerpts from philosophical writings in the form of a novel kind of diary, calling upon video, writing, sound, and objects. The specific link that she establishes with the social group, the clan and the family, also connects her to an area of investigation dear to contemporary art of the 1990s, where the private sphere and things intimate are approached in a direct way, neither beating about the bush nor by consensus, and which support the role of individual memory in the way the works are seen.

Architecture and urbanism may be Delphine Bedel's favourite subjects, but it is through the prism of leisure and the evocation of free time (shopping malls, playgrounds, cultural centres...) that she derives the quintessence of her inspiration. Echoing the theories of the Flemish philosopher Lieven de Cauter, the artist demonstrates by way of her films, videos and sound montages how the city is turning into nothing less than a theatrical stage on which the citizen becomes in turns- and at times in spite of him- or herself- both an actor and a spectator with regard to the execution of social and collective rituals. Language and narrative offer another way into Delphine Bedel's work. Like an author such as Georges Perec roaming the streets, she gathers together, almost aimlessly, the disparate names that she deciphers over shop windows, along with street signs and other graffiti. The exhibition at the Delme Synagogue represents a specific stage of this work oriented towards the game of spectacle, and the society of spectacle. The playing cards enlarged to the traditional format of the portrait strangely show their flip side (of luck), their hidden side, like a metaphor of possible addictive spirals.

Sylvie Eyberg derives her vocabulary from magazines which she cuts up, and from "collections" and "compilations" which she puts together and jealously keeps in a "cahier-ressource". In so doing she comes across as an artist whose focus is composition. Working with enlargement and framing, and underscoring the printing grid and using quotation, she develops a particularly personal approach. It is akin to a film editor's method--she cuts, merges together, splices, associates, fashions and adjusts the material not to create a dreamlike, fantasy world, but rather to reveal and accentuate the features and characteristics of a very real world.

In her screen works, with their variable dimensions, she pays special heed to hands and faces which, in turns, she appropriates, hides and partly displays, managing, despite this, to make the gaze and presence of people something perceptible--the sign of their humanity.


Orla Barry

Born in 1969 in Wexford, Eire

Lives and works in Belgium


Delphine Bedel

Lives and works in the Netherlands


Sylvie Eyberg

Born in 1963 in Brussels, Belgium

Lives and works in Belgium