Camille Henrot’s diverse practice encompasses video, sculpture, installation, painting and works on paper. Henrot studied film animation at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. A sprawling curiosity guides her interrogation of what it means to be at once a private individual and a global citizen. The layers of Henrot’s investigations unfold with a knowing humor, as she looks at interpersonal and political issues within a culture consumed by anxiety. Henrot draws inspiration from subjects as vast and varied as martial arts, evolutionary biology, self-help, psychoanalysis, and religion: “I see the world as a fragmented ensemble, and that fragmentation is harrowing. Through the research implied by my projects, I can establish some continuity.”
During a fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution in 2012, Henrot began an ambitious inquiry into how different cultures explain the origin of the world. The artist pursued the Institution’s archives, fascinated by its ambition for total representation and its endless contradictions. The resulting video Grosse Fatigue (2013) can be described as an epic amalgamation of origin stories. Grosse Fatigue borrows the familiar format of the computer desktop: new windows displaying videos and images expand, scroll and multiply, while an accompanying soundtrack—composed by Joakim Bouaziz, written by Henrot and poet Jacob Bromberg, and voiced by multidisciplinary artist Akwetey Orraca-Tetteh—narrates a pulsing melange of creation stories. As information has slipped from academic to algorithmic, personal devices become portals to oversaturation and, as the title suggests, the weight of this information is often felt as exhaustion. Henrot was awarded a Silver Lion at the 55th Venice Biennale for the presentation of Grosse Fatigue; years later, it remains an iconic work that permanently shifted the landscape of digital video.
In 2017, Henrot was given carte blanche to take over the 22,000 square-meter Palais de Tokyo in her hometown of Paris. The ambitious exhibition Days Are Dogs was structured by the seven days of the week and encompassed all forms of the artist’s output. The exhibition marked the premiere of Saturday (2017), a 3D film that takes the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church, an evangelical Christian denomination that celebrates the Sabbath, as it’s point of departure. Henrot traveled to SDA Church communities in the US and in the Kingdom of Tonga, Polynesia. Saturday splices handheld footage of water immersion baptisms with other contemporary imagery such as surfing, medical testing, cosmetic enhancement and protest. An electronic news-style ticker runs across the bottom of the screen, tempting the viewer to absorb multiple information sources simultaneously. Anxiety-inducing headlines describing environmental catastrophe are juxtaposed with footage of people finding faith, seeming to prophesy fire and brimstone, and ultimately offering a powerful reckoning with the concept of hope in our time.
As an artist-in-residence at Callie’s, Henrot is experimenting with new techniques for her paintings and works on paper. She prepared her contribution to the 2021 Liverpool Biennial, and the solo exhibitions Is Today Tomorrow at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, and Mother Tongue at Kestner Gesellschaft in Hannover, both of which opened in 2021. Henrot is preparing two forthcoming solo exhibitions for Middelheim Museum, Antwerp, and the Munch Museum in Oslo.
Born in Paris in 1978, Camille Henrot lives and works between New York City, Paris, and Berlin. A 2012 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship resulted in her film Grosse Fatigue, for which she was awarded the Silver Lion at the 55th Biennale di Venezia. She is the recipient of the 2014 Nam June Paik Award and the 2015 Edvard Munch Award. A corresponding exhibition will open at Oslo’s newly opened Munch Museum in fall 2022. She elaborated ideas from Grosse Fatigue to conceive her acclaimed 2014 installation The Pale Fox at Chisenhale Gallery in London. The exhibit went on to travel to institutions including Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen; Bétonsalon – Centre for art and research, Paris; and Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Germany. This was followed by the major monograph Elephant Child (2016). In 2017, Henrot was given carte blanche at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, where she presented the major exhibition Days Are Dogs. She lives and works between New York City, Paris, and Berlin.
Henrot has had additional solo exhibitions at the New Museum, New York; Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin; New Orleans Museum of Art; Fondazione Memmo, Rome; Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Japan; and Art Sonje in Seoul, Korea. Henrot has participated in biennial exhibitions of Venice, Lyon, Berlin and Sydney. Upcoming exhibitions include Middelheim Museum in Antwerp, Belgium (2022); Kunstverein Salzburg, Austria (2022); and the Munch Museum in Oslo (2022).