Satire and sarcasm are recurring features in Julie Béna’s practice, which often uses humor–preferably acerbic, absurd, or grotesque–to address questions related to gender and class politics. Ouin..., ouin (Gala) [Whine…, whine, (Gala), 2021] is part of a group of weeping plush figures that Béna realized for her solo exhibition The Den (2021), where the French artist took the mythical figure of the ogre as the epitome of patriarchy and political power in contemporary societies. Named after the artist’s daughter Gala, this bald mermaid comprises a soundbox that, when pressed, plays the sound of a young girl crying for her mother. Through the unapologetic waggishness of her work, Béna plays with the codes of fairy tales, horror movies and comedy, evoking the multiple facets of the ogre mythology, torn between its popularity as an innocent children’s story–such as its Hollywoodian version Shrek (a Yiddish word meaning ‘fear’ or ‘fright’)–and its multifarious interpretations in psychoanalysis and politics, where he is often used as the personification of the dictator.
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