Elsa Leydier

Sept 5 - Oct 4
Opening on September 5, 2 - 7 pm

Untitled #7 from the series Plátanos con Platino, 2017 | pigment print, framed in wood | total edition of 10 + 2 AP

Elsa Leydier (b. 1988, Vénissieux, France) lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. There, in Brazil, where she moved to in 2015, the young artist explores the limits of this society through photography, focusing on diverting the political charge of iconic images. The show Transatlántica bridges 3 recent projects of Leydier, all executed in Latin America. They invite to question the dominant ways in which photography is exploited to represent those territories and highlight the role of the image in the perception we have of the supposed natural environment.

She won the Prize Maison Ruinart Paris Photo 2019 and is the winner of the Dior Prize for Photography for Young Talents 2019. Elsa Leydier is one of the finalists for the Encontros da Imagen Discovery Award 2020 and was one of the finalists of FOAM Talent in 2019. She exhibited Transatlántica in 2019 at Paris Photo, at the Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, and at Galerie Intervalle that represents her work in Paris.

Untitled #3 from the series Braços verdes e olhos Cheios de Asas, 2016 | pigment print, framed in wood | 90 x 74 cm | total edition of 10 + 2 AP

For Plátanos con Platino and Braços Verdes e Olhos Cheios de Asas, Leydier modifies the colors of her photographs made in the Amazon region to produce a visually explosive and luminous image. Braços Verdes e Olhos Cheios de Asas is a reminder of a degree to which the Amazon is glamorized by popular culture. Borrowing its language of luxury aesthetics, Leydier aims not at immersing the viewer in the lush greenery of the Amazon, but – quite the contrary – points at a misguiding romanticized nature of its representation.

Plátanos con Platino is also about twisting the representations. The series investigates Chocó, the region known and spoken of only as of the poorest and most violent in Colombia. However it also happens to be one of the richest regions in the world in terms of its biodiversity, but the news doesn’t talk about that. Elsa Leydier is revealing Chocó’s luxuriance, a side less visible and often neglected.

By doing so, she breaks the vernacular image of the Amazon region and, by the means of photography, gives it back the values it has lost. She joins the wonder of the poet Garcia Marquez who wrote in 1954 when he discovered this region: “If someone had the idea to sow a banana tree, the fruits would have grown loaded with platinum nuggets.”

Untitled #2 from the series Braços verdes e olhos Cheios de Asas, 2016 | pigment print, framed in wood with museum glass | 75 x 50 cm | total edition of 10 + 2 AP


Petralhada from the series Brazil: System Error (#elenão), 2018 | oak wood lightbox, museum glass, LED | frame 16 x 8,4 x 3,4 cm | edition 3 + 1 AP

Her latest project, Brazil: System Error (#elenão), is no less topical and ideologically charged. Iconic clichéd images of Brazil found through internet search engines were digitally modified to produce a political statement against stereotyping.

At the end of 2018, during the presidential campaign of Jair Bolsonaro, the current president of Brazil, Leydier typed the word “Brazil” into a search engine. She fished out a series of banal illustrations of what is conventionally approved as ‘the Brazillian’. These often happy and colorful stereotypical images were altered by inserting into their text code the invectives pronounced by the candidate Bolsonaro. This resulted in visual glitches, bugs, that Elsa stages as a metaphor for the discordance between the-tropical-paradise cliché of Brazil and its present corrupted power machine. The series is executed in a form of lightboxes in wood and glass imitating a mobile phone, and they are silent witnesses of this iconic conflict. Elsa has modified the digital DNA of the common “beautiful image” and created visual bugs by glitching technique. But the question that arises is: is it really the artist who damages the image of Brazil?