Elsa Brès

Elsa Brès

Elsa Brès’ films and videos navigate between documentary and (science-)fiction to explore the relationships between environment, technology and design.

Elsa Brès (b. 1985) is an artist living between Paris and Roubaix. She graduated from Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture of Paris Belleville (where she teaches architecture theory) and also studied at University of Montreal. She just graduated from Le Fresnoy national studio of contemporary arts (Tourcoing, France) in 2017.

Elsa Brès links research, fiction and experimentation to explore perceptions and political stakes of the contemporary landscapes.

Her work has been shown worldwide in festivals like 25 FPS festival, IndieLisboa, Kasseler Dokfest, Fracto Berlin, FID Marseille, Hamburg Short film festival, and exhibited at LOOP Barcelona, Palais de Tokyo, Villa Médicis, 104 Centquatre (Paris), the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (Paris), among others.

STELLA 50.4N1.5E

HD Video / 14:50 min / 2016

A sea of dunes. An unpopulated seaside resort. Hands putting together a heap of documents. The landscape is an architecture.

“It’s winter under the heavy sky, the sea has retreated and the wind draws lines of sand on the asphalt roads of “Stella”, a seaside town in Northern France; it appears soundless and deserted. In the deep of the night, the horizon moves at the pace of the dunes, one by one they engulf the steep plan of the city. In front of this swaying landscape, hands are putting together a heap of documents, collecting and sorting them—drawings, samples, scans of landscapes, thermographies—thus elaborating a manifold, experimental cartography of the city, erecting Stella in a milieu where the relationship between the instability of earthly matter and the authority of geometry becomes graspable. Waiving the traditional opposition between nature and architecture, “Stella” is a film about work as necessary condition for perception, in which Elsa Brès teaches us how to look at a mutating space. The inside is the place from which we, as would an explorer, a traveller-botanist, an archivist or an archaeologist, reassemble in a constellation the elements that represent and compose the exterior space, from framed estate agency views to measures, geological samples and the like. The outdoor space then appears as a collage of forms and stuffs, constantly interpenetrating each other. When the maquette literally melts down on the city maps, a movement of fusion irreversibly blurs the distinction between the building from which the work organizes itself and the surrounding sea of dunes: the buildings are worn away, the landscape is an architecture.”

— Charlotte Bayer-Broc (translated by Charlotte Thevenet)


HD Video / 17:58 min / 2017

300 million years ago, the north of France was a wetland. 140 years ago, a canal is dug and never filled with water. One day, vagabonds decide to go down an invisible river and pick on the way débris of a world to start a new one.

« I accompany the explorers of “Love Canal”, the film by Elsa Brès, I follow their wandering inside an abandoned canal (but is the earth abandoned? Can the earth be alone?). It is a journey into the land of abysses that we go on with Elsa Brès, and the quest to gather the mineral debris of an untilled world is about founding a new relation (for the world exists only through the relation we have with it).

Do samples form a story? The gesture motivating the minimal prospecting pursued in the film does not send us on to a new enigma: we come across the ruin of a car, a shattered smartphone that anticipates and embodies all the breakages at work here, the one that technology inflicts on rocks, on stones, on the world itself, whose matter is crumbling, dissolving and melting, until it turns into a hole, a hole we leap into to enter the dark.

The little community of human beings that seek this future by plunging ever deeper in the division of being, in the fragmentation of the “physis”, seems to open onto a limitless transmission, the one that makes bits of earth go from one hand to another, the one that discovers and brings to birth and, in watching over matter, entrusts us with its metamorphosis. »

— Yannick Haenel