Audio/video running time: 14 minutes 38 seconds loop
The video, Une pièce de monnaie de Monsieur Risso, takes its starting point from an interview by the artist with Mr. Pierre Risso at his apartment in St. Denis; a northern suburb of Paris. Mr. Risso, who was born in 1928, recounted his heroic life as part of the Northern Liberation Movement in France during World War II. This meeting with Mr. Risso was initiated as part of the artist’s research involving the history of munitions factories in St. Denis.
During the conversation, Mr. Risso gave the artist a two franc aluminum coin, which was minted in 1947. Mr. Risso recalled that aluminum coins were substituted for the original copper ones when they were melted down to make munitions for the War. The coin’s origin was later questioned when the artist consulted a local historian and another story was revealed. This inspired the artist to explore the difference between perceptual experiences that happen in the present and the interplay of remembering and imagination that takes place after time has lapsed.
The video became a mechanism for the artist to explore how history is interpreted and shared; while at the same time questioning the validity of stories that emerge from personal interactions and informed attestations by the state. The video begins with a dialogue between Coelho and Mr. Risso, which develops into an animated story. As the narrative unfolds, the coin embarks on a journey to discover its identity; coming in contact with people from various places such as a Flea Market, Church, Public Garden, History Museum and Public Library; located within the département of Seine-Saint-Denis. The story does not arrive at a final conclusion; but rather more questions emerge when the coin finds itself in a Public Library and is confronted with various interpretations of its origin.
While developing this video, the artist reflected on his own journey of discovery about the correlation between myth and reality. By creating this coin’s personal story, the artist explores the complexity of history and whether myth is at the heart of our understanding, which in turn can influence our sense of present reality.
Une pièce de monnaie de Monsieur Risso was developed in 2012 when Coelho was Artist-in-Residence at the Centre International d’Accueil et d’Echanges des Récollets in Paris, France. The video was produced in 2013 by Buchet Ponsoye Foundation, Paris; Espace Synesthésie, St Denis and TRIAD, London. Further supported by CHOOSEONE.ORG, St Ouen; Commune Image, St Ouen; Église de l'Estrée, St Denis; Institut Français, Delhi; Médiathèque - Plaine Commune, St Denis; Musée d'art et d'histoire, St Denis and Pavillon Neuflize OBC, Paris. Cécile Bourne-Farrell was the curator of this project.