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Ethel Lilienfeld at FotoFest Biennial 2024

INVISIBLE FILTER, 2022. Four-channel video and multichannel sound installation. Production Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains. Installation view at Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains. © Ethel Lilienfeld.

The FotoFest Biennial 2024 central exhibition, Critical Geography, reexamines traditional Western and historical understandings of geography while investigating shifting and emergent spatial realms.

Borrowing its name from the sub-discipline of geography that questions and challenges power structures, inequality, and dominant ideologies shaping spatial patterns, Critical Geography explores how space, place, and communities are influenced by social, economic, and political forces. By critically analyzing these dynamics, the works in the exhibition aim to provoke conversations around social justice, environmental sustainability, and transformative change.

Critical Geography features a diverse range of image-based practices: from photographers and storytellers whose works shed light on systemic oppression, violence, and urgent environmental concerns, to artists and image-makers who appropriate mapping, social media, and technology to explore inequality in colonial and post-colonial contexts. The exhibition presents a range of unorthodox strategies employed to construct new narratives around place and community while imagining alternative social organizations of space. The Biennial exhibition also includes several site-specific commissioned works by participating artists, including French artist Ethel Lilienfeld

About Ethel Lilienfeld

Ethel Lilienfeld (1995) is a French visual artist and a filmmaker living in Brussels. Her work is currently being produced at Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains (FR). 

Technological advances engage us fully in the experience of the virtual body. Ethel Lilienfeld is interested in its growing impact on everyday life. She creates strange images that exacerbate the tension between fantasy and madness. She questions aesthetic standards, social norms, notions of identity and gender. The body occupies an important place in most of the depictions arranged by the artist. While she uses photography, video installation, or film, her devices are nonetheless related to sculpture and the relationship to space is crucial. In her videos, Ethel Lilienfeld modulates with the actors, the sets and the objects by drawing alternately from fiction and reality.

About FotoFest

FotoFest is a Houston-based contemporary arts and education organization cofounded by photojournalists Frederick Baldwin and Wendy Watriss. FotoFest is dedicated to advancing photography and visual culture through the presentation of exhibitions, public programs, publications, and curricula. The examination of society, culture, and contemporary life through the lens of photography and related media is central to FotoFest’s mission. FotoFest organizes a city-wide biennial project in the form of large-scale central exhibitions, curated lectures, performances, a symposium, and film programs, in addition to the organization’s year-round programming.

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