Matti Braun — Salo


Mixed media

Matti Braun

Past: December 11, 2010 → February 12, 2011

As part of Thermostat, a cooperative project involving 24 French centres d’art and German Kunstvereine, the Kunstverein Braunschweig is presenting a solo exhibition of Matti Braun (1968, lives in Cologne) at La Galerie. For his first solo exhibition in France, Matti Braun will present several groups of works inspired by cultural relationships between France, Germany, Senegal and Morocco from the colonial period up to the present.

The exhibition represents a new step in the research that Matti Braun began in 2009 in Rabat (Morocco) and followed with a journey to Senegal in the footsteps of German sculptor Arno Breker — controversial for his collaboration with Hitler and the Nazis — who worked for King Hassan II of Morocco and President Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal in the 1970s.

The title of the exhibition is characteristic of Braun’s artistic strategy of exploring cultural and intercultural contexts and reintegrating historical and personal truths. “Salo” implies several layers of meaning: in France it has an insulting connotation; in Finland, which accounts for a part of Braun’s biographical background, it means ’solitude’ and is also the name of a town. At the same time, it is the title of Pasolini’s last film, Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975), which makes reference to events in the northern Italian city of Salò shortly before the end of World War II, which enjoyed ambivalent fame as the capital of Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic.

In Braun’s oeuvre, perspectives are shifted and opened up, facts reassembled and combined to generate equivocal meanings. Braun’s works range from smaller objects that in part suggest folk pieces — ceramics, batiks, or mouth-blown glass objects — to photography and space-consuming installations.

His approach for the most part condenses a mix of facts, meanings, images, and forms into a complex network of associations in which each object and each of the materials used transcends itself. Part of this is a search in which he pursues historical, cultural, or biographical contexts that are brought together by a process of association. Braun’s telling and assembling of individual ’stories’ impressively present the development of history as a fragile process of the cultural production of meaning. In doing so, his associations are always consciously speculative and unstable, without fixing contexts.

The subject areas and materials presented in the exhibition at Noisy-le-Sec are equally multifaceted. These include butterfly collections and a room displaying burnished brass plates. Braun has rooms filled with centimeter-thick screed, and illuminates the phosphorescent paint on the wall with a black light, resulting in a surreal atmosphere. Another work is the ten-part series of black-and-white offset prints (Pierre, Pierre). It features motifs from different sources. The photograph of an African mask is a poster motif for the first Festival des Arts Nègres that took place in 1966 in Dakar and makes reference to the ambivalent character Léopold S. Senghor. As early as the thirties, Senghor, a lyric poet and Senegal’s first elected president, was a formative influence on the worldwide Négritude movement, exemplary of the reciprocal and contradictory influences between Europe and Africa.

  • Rencontre : Cinéma sénégalais, de Djibril Diop Mambety à aujourd’hui, par Mati Diop Lecture Thursday, February 3, 2011 7 PM → 9 PM

    Lieu : auditorium de la Médiathèque Roger-Gouhier, juste à côté de La Galerie.

93 Seine-St-Denis Zoom in 93 Seine-St-Denis Zoom out

1 rue Jean-Jaurès

93130 Noisy-le-Sec

T. 01 49 42 67 17

Official website

Opening hours

Wednesday – Saturday, 2 PM – 6 PM
Saturday, 2 PM – 7 PM
Fermeture les jours fériés

Admission fee

Free entrance

The artist

  • Matti Braun