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About Bettina Samson

Born: 1978, Paris, France


2003: Diplôme National Supérieur d'Expression Plastique (DNSEP), Ecole Nat. des Beaux-Arts de Lyon
2001: DEA d'Arts Plastiques, Université de Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne

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Bettina Samson

Practice: multidisciplinary / installation

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 Given that French artist Bettina Samson is considered a major talent in her home country, it seems extraordinary that her work has shown so little elsewhere (and never, to date, in the US).

Like much current French art, Samson's work is coolly cerebral, generated by careful enquiry into little-known areas of cultural and scientific history.

Extracting parallel narratives and concealed connections within subjects of interest as varied as the accidental discovery of radioactivity or the composer Olivier Messiaen (and his one-time pupil Joel Barr, an American electronics expert and spy), Samson's practice both parallels and portrays the lesser-known interconnections of history: event leading to event in a tightening coil of increasingly extraordinary cause and effect.

This impulse to chart the unmapped not only defines individual works, but exists as a connective thread across nominally autonomous pieces or series, such as Cinder Peak Phone Booth (2008) or Members of the utopian community of Llano del Rio, as unseen by Aldous Huxley (...), 2009, both of which extend the mythology of the American Mojave Desert in unexpected ways.

While many artists employ similarly serpentine, research-based approaches to art-making, one of Samson's particular strengths lies in the compelling visual nature of her creative resolution.

Works such as the aforementioned Cinder Peak Phone Booth enthral not only as erudite interpretations of cultural history, but as beautifully modulated sculptural presences.

In this respect, it seems to us, Samson shares common ground with acclaimed American artist Matthew Day Jackson, whose own forays into 'mythistory' are as satisfying to behold as they are to unravel.

Added July 2011

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