Bye Bye Binary
Curator: Céline Poulin
Enza Le Garrec
H·Alix Sanyas (Mourrier)
Léna Salabert Triby
Bye Bye Binary (BBB) is both an educational space and a community. It brings together a set of people (29!), mainly graphic designers, who experiment with and study inclusive and non-binary language and ways of writing. As such, BBB has created the first library of inclusive typefaces.
BBB is particularly interested in ligatures (when two or three graphemes are joined to form a new one), such as ae and vf. Ligatures are “based on connection and transitions rather than separation,” the collective writes. An observation that sounds like a statement and that embodies an artistic commitment close to practices in popular education and co-creation.
That is what it’s all about, in their methods in general and for this exhibition: creating together. For the exhibition at the Phare, the group has decided to select the pieces to be shown together and to collectively produce a large flag by appropriating the themes of the plays presented as part of the theatre’s season “Un pas de côté [One step aside]”. This shared production follows very precise rules established by the group. As Marie Preston wrote: “To exist as a collective force, each group needs to decide on founding motions specific to its functioning. This supposes that “artifices”, “institutions” are employed. The artifice “tries to make the arrangements run away which, in a set situation, block, lock our capacity of action.” It consists of inventing new habits and believing in their potentially transformative effect. It forces “shifts” and obliges us to think of what seems “natural.”
At BBB, members of the group are randomly assigned a number from 1 to X, depending on the number of members involved in the creation or the project (9 for Brétigny). Then, each person adds to, modifies and transforms the proposal of the previous person, like a game of exquisite corpse. Well, not exactly... Exquisite corpse is a group game “in which different people compose a sentence, or a drawing, without any of them being able to consider previous collaboration or collaborations”. Here, each co-creator knows what has been produced and creates from previous creations, with the last person getting the last word. There is something very random about this process, but it is also about encounters between people and worlds. Nobody creates without taking the other creators into account, on the contrary.
Writing about BBB’s ligatures, curator Karin Schlageter said that “their intertwined lines produce an aesthetic of love”, so true it is that intertwining letters generate a tender and affectionate image. The philosopher Alain Badiou defines love as a meeting of differences that, together, will “experience the world in a new way”. Therefore, love can only take on a “random form”. “In reality it’s just a strange adventure,” says graphic novel author Liv Strömquist, quoting Lou Andréas-Salomé. This is precisely the work of Bye Bye Binary, as typographers, graphic designers, artists, which is built this way. They take us with them off the beaten track of language, to give form to other relationships with the self and with others. Strömquist, following in the footsteps of the philosopher Eva Illouz, says emotional commitment is intuitive and “rational decision-making hinders our ability to commit emotionally”. bell hooks put it differently: “Awakening to love can happen only as we let go of our obsession with power and domination.” The collective work of BBB requires a relinquishment of authority since everyone is author collectively, without individual participation being visually identifiable. With BBB, the group becomes one in a logic of power sharing and fusion of identities.
 As the french language is so gendered, BBB is working with ligatures (such as ae & vf) to un·binarise and un·masculinise language.
 Céline Poulin and Marie Preston (dir.), Marie Preston, Inventer l’école, penser la co-création, CAC Brétigny-Tombolo Presses, 2021.
 Alain Badiou with Nicolas Truong, Eloge de l'amour, Champs Essais, Flammarion, 2021.
 Liv Strömquist, La Rose la plus rouge s’épanouit, Rackham, 2019.
 bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions, Harper, 2000.
Bye Bye Binary (BBB) is a Franco-Belgian collective, a pedagogical experiment, a community, a fluid typo·graphic creation workshop, a network, an alliance. The collective, formed in November 2018 during a joint workshop at the typography studios at the École de Recherche Graphique (ERG) and La Cambre (Brussels), looks to explore new graphic and typographic forms adapted to the French language, in particular the creation of glyphs (letters, ligatures, interpuncts, connecting or symbiotic elements) taking inclusive and non-binary language and ways of writing as its starting point, field of experimentation and research subject.
“Læ collectiv·f·e” is part of the cycle “Un pas de côté [One step aside]” of the Théâtre Brétigny, which is co-producer of the exhibition. The CAC Brétigny is a cultural establishment of Cœur d'Essonne Agglomération. Labeled as a Contemporary Art Center of National Interest, it benefits from the support of the Ministère de la Culture—DRAC Île-de-France, Région Île-de-France and Conseil départemental de l’Essonne, with the complicity of the Brétigny-sur-Orge's municipality. CAC Brétigny is a member of TRAM and d.c.a.
Saturday, January 7th 2023, 5-7:45 p.m.
Bye Bye Binary
The exhibition “Læ collectiv-f-e”, which is part of the cycle “Un pas de côté [A step sideways]” of the Théâtre Brétigny, presents the graphic and typographic work of Bye Bye Binary. On this occasion, Roxanne Maillet, H. Alix Mourrier and Léna Salabert propose a workshop to discover their practice and experiment together. It will be followed by a visit of the exhibition.
Practical information: Workshop is full but the visit at 7p.m. is still accessible, no booking needed. The show “La Tendresse” written by Julie Béres is at 8.30 p.m.
Sunday, January 15th 2023, 2:30-6:30 p.m.
Open to all. Free entrance. Refreshments and snacks will be offered.
Free shuttle Paris-Brétigny available: Pick-up at 1:45pm at 104 avenue de France, 75013 Paris (the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand metro stop).
Mandatory booking for the shuttle at email@example.com
Saturday, March 11th 2023, 2:00-6:00 p.m.
A playful and artistic afternoon
The Ǝcole, the CAC Brétigny's visual arts practice and knowledge experimentation group, proposes an afternoon of playful learning for young and old alike. Games, workshops, discussions, and performances will allow the participants to discover different ways of creating and learning together. A more detailed program will be announced here soon.
Open to all. Registration: firstname.lastname@example.org or +33 (0)1 60 85 20 76.