Bertille Bak

Bertille Bak

Bertille Bak

After Melissa Dubbin & Aaron S. Davidson, Edith Dekyndt, Lucas Arruda, Hicham Berrada, the Pinault Collection welcomed Bertille Bak in its artists’ residency in Lens, from September 2019 to July 2020.

Born in 1983 in Arras, Bertille Bak lives and works in Paris.

Through videos, installations, photographs, sculptures and drawings, Bertille Bak stages communities in which she has previously immersed herself in order to grasp their codes, customs and rites. From a Gypsy group in Ivry-sur-Seine, to a community of Polish immigrants in New York City, to the inhabitants of a Bangladeshi apartment building doomed to destruction, Bertille Bak draws her inspiration from these fragile populations to question the notion of living together and the excesses of contemporary society. Far from miserabilism, mixing reality and fiction, she uses her particular relationship with these minorities and her practice to show us their daily struggle and resistance. A humanist activist, Bertille Bak collects and archives the traces of these marginalized groups, these “invisible” people, to create filmic narratives, works tinged with a certain poetry, which in no way blurs the violence of human conditions. The result of this work oscillates between documentary, ethnographic research and investigation.

Originally from Arras, she devoted her first works to the mining towns of northern France. In 2007, she directed T’as de beaux yeux tu sais, her final year project at the Beaux-Arts de Paris, then in 2008, Fais le mur, a film in which she recounts the revolt of the inhabitants of the city n°5 of Barlin, a town in the mining basin, to contest the rise in rents and their forced exile.

A humanist activist, Bertille Bak collects and archives the traces of these marginalized groups, these “invisible” people, to create filmic narratives, works tinged with a certain poetry, which in no way blurs the violence of human conditions.

The discovery of the damage caused by silicosis, a disease caused by the inhalation of dust, caused her to feel a sense of injustice and brought her back to her personal history. As the granddaughter of a miner diagnosed with an abnormally high level of silica in his lungs, she wanted to work with this endangered community. She brings their memory back to life and gives a new look at these miner’s cottages, symbols of a bygone era. In 2017, she directed the film Tu redeviendras poussière (You will turn to dust again), to tackle the struggle of these silicosed men and their widows.

By taking up a ten-month residency at the Pinault Collection in Lens, one of the main urban centres of the Pas-de-Calais mining area, which has left its mark on the area economically and socially, Bertille Bak intends to deepen her research in a world that is dear to her and for which she has been fighting artistically for many years.