Les cellules blanches, nues et le sommeil électrique — Sébastien Rémy


Mixed media

Les cellules blanches, nues et le sommeil électrique
Sébastien Rémy

Past: April 13 → June 8, 2019

The day I met Sébastien Rémy

Last week I went to visit Sébastien Rémy at the psychiatric hospital in Etampes. Véronique Bathily had opened the institution to him for an artist’s residency and notably his project les cellules blanches, nues et le sommeil électrique (the naked white cells and electric sleep). I remember our first visit to the institution. Emilie1, for instance, was clearly happy to see Sébastien again, whom she was in fact meeting for the first time. It’s something in his personality that she must have perceived intuitively, that empathy for places that gives you the impression he has always known them. And it’s true, moreover, that he takes special interest in ghosts.

When I arrived, he was in a discussion with someone, maybe one of the electricians working on the building. The wing is being restored and you have to take several corridors that open on empty rooms before you get to Rémy’s work space. There a standard room has been recreated, the only occupied room in the deserted place; the artist has been digitizing its elements. We thought it was important to base ourselves on the existing furniture to get beyond the iconic depictions of therapeutic spaces that fiction has conveyed. The bed and wardrobe look like those found in boarding schools. Here, as elsewhere, it is all about living someplace simultaneously with and without others. The communication complex with Otherness has profoundly influenced several of the artist’s pieces, like Tant que je vous parle ce n’est pas une frontière (It is no demarcation line as long as i am speaking to you). From Lee Lozano, one of the first artists to create “conversation pieces” and yet known to have stopped talking to women, to those characters in Wim Wenders’ films who are unable to simply talk with others, Tant que je vous parle ce n’est pas une frontière creates a Russian doll effect by using stories printed out on Plexiglas […].

But it didn’t all begin there. I first met Sébastien Rémy in 2010 at a show in Bourges. Fresh from the fine arts school (the École nationale supérieure d’arts of Paris-Cergy), he was showing several projects at the Pavillon d’Auron, including Diogène le chien: correspondances 2000-2009 (Diogenes Doglike: Correspondences 2000-2009), a piece that makes the dead thinker’s words concrete. We started a conversation that hasn’t stopped since. Our way of working and our obsessions are alike, notably our interests with the construction of polyphonic narratives and narrative modulation through the arrangement of images. I was already fascinated by the question of the lyrical assembler2, and Rémy was to become a central figure in that theme […].

Smooth talker, mediator, speaker, medium… whether he embodies these forms of orality, has others play these roles, or an installation of some kind deals with them, utterance is inevitably an essential part of each of the artist’s works. The piece called les cellules blanches, nues et le sommeil électrique will certainly be filled with his voice and the words of all the other authors who, along with him, bring a space to life. The show, I realize now, arranges recent appearances of projects that have punctuated my work with Rémy for nearly ten years at this point. He has brought many others into that conversation […]. The voice of the building itself seems to materialize in the exhibition. Endlessly modified, transformed, and inhabited by multiple individuals, the architecture of CAC Brétigny speaks here in each of the artist’s works, represented in its daily use, collapsing into its resemblance with other empty white spaces, revealing glimpses of its impermanence and perhaps the fears springing from that.

Céline Poulin, curator, assisted by Camille Martin

1 1 The names of patients have been changed.
fn2. 2 See Céline Poulin, “Petra Genetrix and the Figure of the Lyrical Assembler,” in Porosity Valley, Portable Holes, Ayoung Kim, Ed. Ilmin Museum of Art, 2019.


Sébastien Rémy

CAC Brétigny

  • Opening Saturday, April 13, 2019 5 PM → 9 PM

    Openings of “les cellules blanches, nues et le sommeil électrique” at CAC Brétigny and “Finding Money” at the Théâtre Brétigny. Cocktail reception open to all starting at 6:30pm.

    Free shuttle is availaible in partnership with Chanot Contemporary Art Center. Pick up at 3:30 at 104 avenue de France, 75013 Paris (the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand metro stop). 4:30: opening of the exhibition “take (a)back the economy” at Centre d’Art Contemporain Chanot in Clamart. 5:30: leaving for CAC Brétigny. Request at reservation@cacbretigny.com

91 Essonne Zoom in 91 Essonne Zoom out

Espace Jules Verne
rue Henri Douard

91220 Brétigny s/Orge

T. 33 (0)1 60 85 20 78


Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 2 PM – 6 PM
Late openings during the events at Théâtre Brétigny.

Admission fee

Free entrance

The artists

  • Luc Kheradmand
  • Sébastien Rémy
  • Alexis Guillier
  • Maud Jacquin
  • Émile Ouroumov
  • Elsa Polverel
  • Anne Lou Vicente
  • Raphaël Brunel