News / Actualités

Spring 2024

Article (La République des Pyrénées - Karine Roby)
English translation below

English translation:

Chloé Mossessian and landscapes in movement

The videographer who is currently exhibiting at La Minoterie de Nay invites the public to search for old growth forests on Sunday.

Some images still stick to her. The sea to the east and the Pyrenees to the west: the horizon of her childhood in a small village near Argelès shaped the gaze of videographer Chloé Mossessian. She grew up between the Mediterranean, the Albères mountains in the Pyrénées-Orientales where her family settled, after leaving Paris, the wooded slopes and the animals: dogs and horses with which the rider often went hiking.

A true immersion in the great depths of nature that she discovered to the rhythm of the horse's footsteps. It blended into the landscape, without frightening the wildlife. A plunge into history, too: “In one hike, you can cover 5,000 years of history”: Neolithic dolmens, roads of the Roman Empire, 5th century castle… The landscapes bore the traces, scars, strata of past centuries.

" To take time "
Chloé Mossessian learns “to look, observe, take time” and also “to read landscapes”. The foundations of a notion introduced by the historian Fernand Braudel, in his “History of the Mediterranean” written from memory during his captivity in Germany, during the Second World War.

Chloé Mossessian knows this story like the back of her hand, a passion that she shares with her husband Hank Mittnacht. She met him in the United States while she was studying experimental film at The Cooper Union in New York. It was he who suggested the name of the famous historian, and made this “geohistory” known to her. It would become the common fuel of the two artists, who share their time between Pyrénées-Orientales and Pyrénées-Atlantiques: she is a photographer and videographer, he is a musician and composer of folk pop under the alias Hank Midnight.

A camera in your hands
When she creates alone, Chloé Mossessian considers herself a visual artist “making films”. When the two artists combine their skills, they establish a dialogue between music and images to make films: Chloé Mossessian brings her visual approach, light and space, Hank unwinds the script and constructs the story.

They have a shared taste for images, and it is them - through drawings and photos - that opened the doors of Beaux-Arts de Paris to Chloé Mossessian. Almost a childhood dream, she recalls today, who received congratulations from the jury in 2016 for her graduation, before following in the footsteps of her father, filmmaker himself. “He always had a camera in his hands! » remembers the 32-year-old young woman, who also gets her creativity and interest in visual arts and music from her mother.

“A living series”
Until May 12 at La Minoterie de Nay, she is exhibiting videos marked by a photographic influence, and by her relationship to time, a question “which is somewhat the basis of my work. Everything is linked to time! » The artist claims her insertion in the longue-durée, “a little resistance to society”, and of course for the ecology that she defends: “The solution is in the long term. Otherwise, we’re heading straight into the wall.”

This Sunday, it is with her husband that she is invited to the Minoterie de Nay. The couple will screen their films from the “In Search of Old Growth” series. The last one was screened on October 6, 2023 at the Méliès as part of the access)s( #23 festival, and the long-term project is rooted in books devoured by these bulimic readers.

The works highlight the relationships between humans and forests: a visionary text by George Sand on the preservation of the Fontainebleau forest in 1872, “The Overstory”, by the American writer Richard Powers, and “Finding the Mother Tree”, by Canadian Suzanne Simard. The forest ecology researcher at the University of British Columbia was the first to mention the existence of communicating networks between trees. The books nourish the series, as well as the places crossed and the encounters sparked by the films. “It’s a living series because we live with it! » enthuses Chloé Mossessian. The series evolves and is enriched depending on the places and encounters. It grew in the Pyrenees, but could, the artist hopes, make its nest elsewhere through residencies.

Human and plant networks
The third film is part of this dynamic. It took root in the theme of borders, then branched out in other directions, thanks to interviews with storytellers, research on Pyrenean languages and on maps, on which the two artists worked to locate new forests, find old ones… “We talk about changes in landscapes under the influence of pastoralism, landscapes in movement, sharing of territories… we establish a parallel between human and plant networks…”

This reflection is a constant for the two artists: their second film, made in the Albères mountains, already questioned orality, through the figure of a shepherd in love with these mountains. The poems and songs that he had imagined were recorded in writing by a teacher, a friend of this shepherd. He had engraved a few words on stones, and planted redwoods which flourished in this land from which they were not native, marvels Chloé Mossessian. “To be an artist is to create beauty! »

She also has a long-term project in mind: creating a work based on the same landscapes filmed by her grandparents, her parents, and herself... Moving landscapes, which bear witness to the evolution of nature on a small human scale. “It is rooted in world history and in family history. Images that are both intimate and generational, which will touch the heart…”

— Karine Roby for La République des Pyrénées, April 10, 2024

Special screening : #1 Forêts cachées, #2 La fontaine de Manel, #3 Parler forêt
followed by Q&A. As part of group show De près, au loin... le paysage au point de perception, La Minoterie - espace d’art contemporain, Nay, FR - 01.03.2024—12.05.2024

Screening : #3 Parler forêt
27e Rencontres Internationales Traverse, In Situ, In Tempore
Les Abattoirs (auditorium), Toulouse, FR

Fall 2023
Workshop in Collège Clermont, Pau, France
Forêt Cinématographique
Production of episode #4

Summer 2023 Artistic Residency, Pyrenees ⛰

Frontières Nomades
At the invitation of accès)s( cultures électroniques (Pau, FR) and of ETOPIA Center for Art and Technology (Zaragoza, ES), to develop the 3rd film of the In Search of Old Growth series.

Screenings :

In Search of Old Growth #3 : Talking Forest

As part of Festival accès)s(
Cinéma Le Méliès, October 6, 2023

As part of exhibition El mundo es bosque
Etopia, November 2, 2023

Fall 2022
Production of Episode #2 : Manel’s Fountain

"Tandis que le silence s’appuyait à tous les troncs, la voix de la source nous appelait parmi les ombres obliques du soir. “

“L’eau glisse toujours comme si elle tombait d’une étoile. Celui qui s’y penche y retrouve le visage du vieux berger."

— J.-S. Pons, Le Souvenir de Manel (Concert d'été, 1945)

Excerpts (in French) from “Le Souvenir de Manel” written by catalan poet J.-S. Pons. Read by his grandson, painter Sébastien Frère, recorded by filmmaker Claude Mossessian. Sorède, November 2022. Merci à eux !

Summer 2022
Production of Episode #1 : Hidden Forests

«I think if the arts somehow take up this story of kinship, connectivity— the relocation of meaning outward into a shared process of rehabilitation— what seems like a depressive set of sacrifices to very little end could instead begin to be represented as a kind of joyful assertion of purpose: a kind of leverage of diversity and difference that we’ve already begun to undertake in so many other cultural sites.»

— Richard Powers (author of The Overstory), in an interview with Ezra Klein for the NYTimes ︎︎︎