HD Video, 2 channel, aspect ratio 16:9, color,
sound, 18 min 47 sec, french, german subtitles,
edition of 5 + 2AP

Lena Maria Thuering is a swiss artist, based in Zurich Switzerland.
She studied at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). She has exhibited work at venues as Musée de l’Elysée Lausanne CH (2007), Zentrum Paul Klee Bern CH (2008), Kunsthalle Basel CH (2008), Kunstverein Freiburg GE (2009), Kunstmuseum Bern CH (2010) and Kunsthaus Baselland CH (2011) and had screenings at the Jeu de Paume in Paris FR, "Rencontres Internationales" (2009) and at Video Dumbo Festival in Brooklyn New York (2010). She received several awards including Swiss Art Award (2008), Grant from Canton Zurich, (2008), BLKB-Art Prize Baselland (2009), Grant from Canton Zurich (2009), Kiefer Hablitzel Foundation Award (2009 and 2011), Grant from Zurich City, (2011) and 6 month artist residencies in Paris (2009) and New York (2010).

Lena Maria Thüring is known for her examination of socio-cultural and anthropological topics. The reflection on social systems and their construction by assigning them a specific place, as well as the combination of memory, history and space figure prominently in her work. She often positions those questions based on personal stories of individual people or groups, where the socio-cultural environment of the people portrayed also play an important part.

Central to her latest works is the examination of a youth movement or the representatives of a younger contemporary generation of varying cultural and social origins. The artist points to an attitude that can be compared to the one which forms the background to the so-called defiant gardens. It is proven that in war or other exceptional situations people try to retain a little piece of normality by creating a garden or their own place of relaxation where the world is still the way it should be – even if it is next to the trench. Metaphorically speaking all the portrayed persons find their individual defiant garden in the midst of their lives that are shaped by violence and crises.


The artist met the young French policeman in the second new video work “Guardien de la paix (GPX)” (2011) during a visit to the Cité nationale de l’historie de l’immigration (previously Musée de la France d’Outre-mer and Musée des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie) in Paris. Since the opening of the building, there is an aquarium in the basement that contains fish from all the former French colonies, which the policeman regularly visits in his free time, and that presents itself as his personal defiant garden. The protagonist, whom we don’t see, but only hear, describes his difficulty to find a balance between his private life and his public function. He also must function in the collective of the statehood that is embodied by his uniform. Slowly we also hear his personal story, which tells about his parents’ origin in Guadeloupe and his daily routine as a policeman, when he often feels as if he is a “verbal waste bin of the world”. Due to the fish in the aquarium as a backdrop and the selection of his words that time and again makes references to the world of animals, his wish for harmony and non-violence directly affects us, and we only realise after some time that our image of a policeman has changed.

The video portraits show people who are confronted with violence in different ways, who fight with the discrepancies between their self-perception and the perception of others, who are aware of the incompatibility between individual wishes and collective compulsion and who are used to choose between allowing for the personal or giving preference to anonymity. At first sight the style of the video works appears to be that of a documentary. But the artist also includes fictitious elements by staging the visually visible, which either insists on the singular concentration of one detail, or even fades out the person who speaks, or shows the portrayed people from a certain staged angle. She thereby plays with the staging of closeness and distance, which in each case is selected according to the portrayed individual and his stories. Thüring’s sensitive handling of complex topics and individual narrations has by now become one of her most important hallmarks.

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