Nunnery Gallery presents Correspondances, an exhibition of work by east London based French artist Pierrick Mouton and that draws from his relationship with French- Cameroonian Protestant nun, Sister Germaine. Curated by Edward Ball, Correspondances, is an exhibition of emails, letters, photographs, video diaries and films, between the artist and Sister Germaine that spans over five years.
What began as a project to document the daily life in a convent in Versailles, soon changed as Pierrick’s Mouton’s relationship with Sister Germaine developed and he became interested in documenting and understanding more of Germaine’s life. In turn Germaine’s intrigue with the project and the camera grew as she became fascinated with how to record her own daily life.
Mouton enters into a dialogue with a nun who has had little experience with cameras or technology and sets about giving her the skills and tools to make video diaries and record her own life in the convent. Included in the exhibition is a touching film made by Sister Germaine showing the lives of the nuns and a collection of her photographs.
Underpinning the whole project is the intimacy of dialogue and correspondence: between two humans getting to know one another, and between two different film aesthetics and two different perspectives. The main exchange between Mouton and Germaine is the camera, which shows their shifting relationships between artist and muse, filmmaker and filmed subject. Correspondances forms part of Bow Arts’ 20th anniversary programme In Dialogue: a series of exhibitions concerned with the complex relationships between artist and the muse.
In celebration of Bow Arts’ role at the heart of the bustling Bow Road community, Mouton was commissioned in 2014 to carry out a year-long documentary residency in the community leading up to the exhibition, which will be viewed at a special screening in September 2015.
During Pierrick’s Mouton’s residency working with religious leaders in Bow, Mouton has made three gentle portraits of the spiritual lives of a Sikh, Church of England and Methodist minister, thereby gaining deeper understanding of the common threads of spiritual life, irrespective of faith group.
Mouton has exhibited in France and Macedonia and screened his films at Saison Video and Soirée Flare at the Languedoc-Roussillon Cinéma. He works in a variety of media: video installations, photographs, sculpture, and objects found objects, the latter resonating with documentary. His work is about making explicit the roles of the subject and the author in documentary.
Pierrick Mouton, artist, says:
“Germaine seems to use the camera in a very playful way. She has developed her very own instinctive and uninhibited way of taking photographs and image making. A few years ago, I gathered together our five years’ worth of exchanges in a book, titled Correspondance. The book documents the evolution of our relationship over time. It’s so interesting to see how it changed from a formal relationship – signed off ‘Kindest respects, Sister Germaine’ - to a friendship. She now signs off her letters to me with ‘Mama Germaine’.” For this exhibition, I have been thinking about how to present these documents and how to translate them from the publication to the gallery space."
Rosamond Murdoch, Gallery Director, says:
"This is Nunnery Gallery’s proud conclusion to In Dialogue: a season of exhibitions that have focused on the intense relationships developed between artist and muse. Pierrick Mouton is a documentary film-maker who found that when trying to make a film in a closed community of nun’s in France that one nun was set apart, Sister Germaine who came from a small village in Cameroon. Mouton equipped her with the tools of his trade; a stills camera and a video camera and showed her how to record herself. The resulting images and videos are presented at Nunnery Gallery for the first time alongside the accompanying letters (“correspondances” in French) which bely the developing relationship between the artist and the increasing self-awareness of Sister Germaine."