La beauté est dans la rue

A poster, a whistle, a megaphone, smoke, a fist being thrown in the air, a face hidden behind black fabric. Can the revolution and the political engagement be romanticized? Which aesthetic serves which contemporary political engagement? By picturing typical elements normally linked to protest movements, Elodie Grethen questions the political nature of the object itself. Taken out their context, the artefacts gain a new ambivalent meaning, as they don’t refer to a particular political party or ideology, but rather to the political engagement itself. The photographs reveal a clean aesthetic of the protest prone to be reclaimed by both left and extreme-right factions, an evolution that was strengthened since the advent of the social media. By hiding messages in her objects however, the photographer hints at a possible interpretation of the protest object and denounces the reclamation of symbols operated by extreme-right wings. This series called “La beauté est dans la rue” takes its title from a poster and the eponymous slogan used during the civil unrest and student protests in France during May 68. It was a call made to demonstrate against capitalism, consumerism, the Gaullist party and traditional institutions. The slogan encourages social gatherings taking place in the street, while emphasizing the beauty and artistic value of it.

A photographic essay created for the publication “Togetherness”, catalog of students of the school Friedl Kubelka for artistic photography, Vienna. Published on the occasion of the lecture series “Wie kann die Kunst der Krise begegnen? Zusammensein und Freundschaft als künstlerische Praxis” by Maren Lübbke-Tidow, 2018.

© All rights reserved, Elodie Grethen, 2024