Creating links between people, words and places is certainly what best characterizes Carla Adra’s practice. Anchored in everyday life and taking into account the context in which she creates, her works are as many situations that take in and then reincarnate the Other. In the public space, in a high-school class, with patients and nurses from a medical-educational institute, with a group of women over 60, but also with the employees of the art institutions where she shows her work, she invites people to speak out by asking a simple question that concerns us all: the experience of an injustice, a fear, a shame, something we never glorify and that we bury deep in our memories. By creating a trusting atmosphere, she allows and frees us to talk about ourselves, to tell our stories, even to share a confidence.

From this living, sensitive material that she reprocesses, she creates performances, installations, videos, drawings and writings, which give possible forms to the circulation of the word that has been entrusted to hers, while protecting their authors: separating the testimony from the person to make it anonymous; having it interpreted by performers; taking on this word herself and filming herself; switching the tense of the narrative and rewriting the text in the future tense; replacing the «I» with the «you» These are some of the ways in which intimacy and emotion can be socially tolerated in a public space.

The exhibition Se perdre sans peur also constitutes this interface, this intermediate zone that enables a back-and-forth movement between recording and broadcasting.

Attached to sculptural stands, antennas and pedestals, a series of microphones, to which radio devices have been connected, broadcast an interlaced mix of sound sources. Yes, broadcast. By giving this object of amplification a dual function, the artist becomes both medium (intermediary) and medium (means of broadcasting).

A plurality of narratives – that of the radio waves, that of the art centre’s mediators in their work, that of visitors of the exhibition if they so wish, as well as that of the artist – cohabit in the exhibition, leveling out the different registers and tonalities of discourse: public discourse, professional discourse, intimate discourse.

Carla Adra unveils a relevant part of her working process by presenting around this installation the mind maps she creates in parallel and continuously according to projects, periods and readings.

This rhizomatic form, derived from cognitive psychology and appropriated by contemporary management, is also a recurring artistic form. In Carla Adra’s work, the variety of media and formats reveals a compelling need for her to create them, to see things as a journey, and to create points of reference.
They trace the thread of her thoughts, questionings and projects, and link them together. The most recent one maps her exhibition at 40mcube, as well as upcoming shows at Valeria Cetraro gallery, Palais de Tokyo and Kunsthalle Mulhouse, showing how they are all connected.

Carla Adra uses these mind maps as a tool for organizing her thoughts and projects, as a poetic drawing, and as a source for performances.
This is what she achieves in Se perdre sans peur, by recording a reading of each of the maps presented in the exhibition. This sound performance becomes a creation in its own right, but also a commentary on her work, an additional act of mediation that takes the same broadcast mode as radio stations. To these two words we add that of the mediators. Interested in this essential figure in cultural institutions, she assimilates their work to a performance, which she places at the heart of the exhibition. Dressed in a distinctive painted coat, 40mcube mediation manager Cyrille Guitard and mediation assistant Elsa Gervais become what Carla Adra calls the tuners of this strange instrument, the micro-broadcaster. They synchronize the installation, choosing the radio stations to compose the concert of voices, music, advertisements and jingles, while using the microphones during visits and to welcome visitors. Finally, this quartet is completed by the visitor of the exhibition, who can, if he or she wishes, use the microphone to speak publicly. In this way, the moment of performance stretches out and becomes active over time, taking full possession of the exhibition space.
From this installation and Carla Adra’s work as a whole, a more general question emerges: that of address. Who is the artist addressing, who is the work addressing? Rather than thinking of an audience in terms of masses that are hard to distinguish, the artist, by leaving room for the intimate and using the radiophonic object, adopts Walter Benjamin’s conception of the listener in his radio experiments at the beginning of the 20th century: that of addressing a multiplicity, each one individually.

It is in this maze of thoughts and voices that the artist invites us to join her and lose ourselves, without fear.

Anne Langlois

With the participation of RIGA

Carla Adra is represented by Valeria Cetraro gallery

Read the transcript of the audio work broadcast in the exhibition