I prefer it when it’s real

Safouane Ben Slama

  • U+1F494-001

    Broken Heart

  • 💔

    Hair design

  • w.n.

    Digital photography, 11 × 13 cm

  • cœur brisé


“I prefer it when it’s real”

Curator: Camille Martin

It’s summer. Warm light illuminates the face of a young girl. She is lying in the green grass, her head resting on someone’s thighs. She talks about love, friendship, about disillusionment as well as moments of happiness.

In a living room, a man and woman are sitting at a table. They are holding hands. One looks shyly down the lens, the other looks away. On the table, there are fruit and a cup of tea. The sun’s rays traverse the room, bringing out the whiteness of the walls.

It’s nighttime. The camera’s flash reveals the face of a boy lighting a cigarette. To his right, an arm is wrapped around him. Behind him, moonlight illuminates the trees.

In June 2021, Safouane Ben Slama, equipped with his film camera, explored the Essonne region. Letting himself be guided by the regional RER C and D railway lines, the artist took the time to get off more or less at random at the different station platforms. This summer spent wandering the streets of Brétigny, Grigny and even Étampes culminated in an exhibition of 15 photos at Théâtre Brétigny from January to July 2022.

One year after roaming the public space, creating a touching portrait of a youth outside, the artist returns to Essonne to continue his inextricable quest for reality.

For summer and autumn 2022, Safouane Ben Slama will continue to travel these distinctive city outskirts, particularly its rural and peri-urban areas, by day and night. The artistic research residency will go on to find those we have already met. Experimenting with video for the first time, he will bring the speech and movements of his models into his work. He will also reach out to others by giving them cameras to use. This gesture goes hand-in-hand with the intention of capturing interiors and their intimacy, always on the lookout for moments of tenderness. 

Safouane Ben Slama studied philosophy and graduated with a master's degree in exhibition at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Throughout his wanderings and travels, he develops a spontaneous and self-taught relationship to photography. Navigating in urban and peri-urban contexts, his practice tends to reveal the gestures and marks of the bodies in these territories. In 2021, he led a workshop as part of the “Voir c’est croire, la preuve par l’image?” [Seeing is believing, proof by image?], a program sponsored by LE BAL / La Fabrique du Regard. He participated in “Répliques Imaginaires” at the 62nd Salon de Montrouge (2017), in association with the Greater Paris Photo Month, and regularly collaborates with the magazines Vice, i-D or Dazed & Confused.

Camille Martin is an independent curator. She joined the CAC Brétigny team in May 2018 as curatorial and production assistant first and then occupied the production manager position until February 2022. During these four years, she co-designed and accompanied Laura Burucoa's residency (2019-2021) and curated the exhibitions at the Phare, welcome areas of the Théâtre Brétigny, in 2021 and 2022 (“To Ambroise and Aziza” by Neïla Czermak Ichti and Ibrahim Meïté Sikely, “Waiting for the flying cars” by Laura Burucoa and “I prefer when it's real” by Safouane Ben Slama). In parallel, with Cathy Crochemar, they created in 2019 the collective commizariat, which thinks festive and popular frames of monstration for young contemporary creators.

This project is part of the “Contrat d'Éducation Artistique et Culturelle” (CTEAC) of Cœur d'Essonne Agglomération with the DRAC Île-de-France and the Academy of Versailles. It benefits from the financial support of the Conseil départemental de l’Essonne. L'Ǝcole is conducted in partnership with commizariat.