At the Pavillon Carré de Baudouin, the “not lost” of Taysir Batniji

“Rooms” (2005), by Taysir Batniji.

His political works made known the Palestinian artist Taysir Batniji, born in Gaza in 1966. The series of watchtowers (2008) shows Israeli watchtowers dominating the Cisjardonia landscape. Another, called GH0809#2, consists of twenty images of houses bombed in Gaza in the winter of 2008, framed and captioned as if they were real estate advertisements. Also Taysir Batniji, who has lived in France since 1995, is considered an artist of history, in the sense in which we used to say a painter of history: someone who chronicles his time and its disasters.

This chronicle is not absent from his exhibition at Baudouin’s Pavillon Carré, but it is suggested, implied or coded there. Only the series Disruptions is an exception. These are thirty-nine screenshots of FaceTime conversations that the artist had or tried to have with his mother, who remained in Gaza between 2015 and 2017, died without him being able to see her again. All are blurred, or drowned in green, because the communication was disrupted by Israeli jamming systems. The other works, which form the main part of the itinerary, are divided between drawings on the one hand and, on the other, photographs and short videos that Taysir Batniji captures with his telephone.

“Grounds” series, by Taysir Batniji, exhibited at the Pavillon Carré de Baudouin, in Paris, in May 2023.

The images he thus captures line the walls or are projected in a loop. The slideshows are then modestly named Passing impressions Or At home, elsewhere. They show the artist’s daily family life in Paris, follow the movements of a bee on a curtain or try to capture the brutality of a storm. Allusions to his status as a refugee are barely perceptible here. The exhibition therefore surprises by presenting the personal and pensive part of the work.

Create a link

“It’s deliberateexplains Taysir Batniji. I lived in this arrondissement for a long time, on the 20e, even though I don’t live there anymore. So I wanted to highlight my relationship with this place and give a special place to intimate works, more than I had done before. » So it is with the series Grounds, color photos of fallen debris and soil details. They are framed very closely, in the center of the image. “I feel close to Georges Perecsays Batniji. I have the same fascination for the smallest things. » It is for him, he adds, not to attempt an inventory, but to create a link with this territory which is not his, although he has lived there for so long.

“There are times when I look at what surrounds me as strangers look at it: with the feeling of floating, of not having my feet on the ground. I don’t always know why this object, this imprint or this shadow on the ground is calling me, talking to me. So I save it. » From the same desire and the same impossibility of taking root arises an activity which Taysir Batniji admits may seem ” absurd “ : take a smear in charcoal or pencil the imprint of a sole which he will never know to whom it belonged. The series is ironically named Not lost.

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