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Bettina Hoffmann

Drift / Dérive
Bettina Hoffmann

From September 30 to December 23, 2023
Opening on Saturday, September 30 at 2 p.m.

Artist Bettina Hoffmann’s exhibition Dérive / Drift brings together recent videos and photographs in which she explores interpersonal relations among people in contemporary times – although the behaviours are timeless. With her attentive observation of the body movements of individuals who may be seen as caring, indifferent, in conflict, anxious, relaxed, or with moods that change and deepen according to ambient conditions, concerns, and their own experiences, Hoffmann underlines the ambiguous and dualistic nature of human behaviour: ambivalent, paradoxical, contradictory, enigmatic, unpredictable.

Each of the four videos offers a different context: one takes place in an empty white space (Silent Office), another offers a dark and colourful view of people underwater in a lake (Displaced), and in a third hands interact in an infinite black space (Memories of Touch). In the fourth, Effleurer, the camera slowly revolves around figures that are immobile, frozen in time. As in many of Hoffmann’s works, we find people in an intimate space in which something has happened or is about to happen. Suspense. Foreignness. Disquieting strangeness. Fascinatingly, in Effleurer, the oldest video (made in 2008), Hoffmann’s current approach can already be discerned, in a condensed version.

In the photographs, Hoffmann explores situations and interactions that take place within defined spaces, including inside cars (Idle) and in a hidden, secret place in an urban forest where teenagers like to meet (Mount Royal).

In these works, everything seems to drift, to be in constant movement, without a clear direction that would give a clue to what comes next, as if the people in them might take flight and scatter at any moment, confirming their vulnerability and evanescence. A sort of philosophical and poetic study of the world, these settings and choreographies are presented to us as wanderings, as flows, beyond our control. Strangely, we don’t know if we should resolve them, or even whether we could – supposing that we wanted to.

Critical essay
For each exhibition presented at EXPRESSION, a critical essay probes more deeply the proposals of artists and curators. For the exhibition Dérive / Drift, guest author Jean-Ernest Joos has written this essay, available in print and digital versions.

Bettina Hoffmann | Dérive/Drift
Vidéo : Félix Bouchard