Over the past thirty years, Sophie Ristelhueber has been reflecting on land and its history, developing a singular approach to the ruins and traces left by men in places devastated by war or natural and cultural disasters. Standing away from classic photo-reportage, she focuses instead on exposing the facts and the imprint of history on bodies and landscapes. She makes wounds and scars visible, which she exposes as the real memories of the “facts” of history.
Her practice, involving deep personal commitment and field practice, borrows the tools (photography) and one of the major themes (war) of reportage, while adapting them to the procedures of an art practice. Her work is not built around a documentary project that would aim to represent something, but around the aesthetic project of questioning the notion of traces left on bodies and on places.
While she essentially uses photography in her work, Sophie Ristelhueber uses it to create plastic works in their own right, playing on the materiality and format of the image, its status, its framing and its installation in space (photographs, posters, silkscreen prints on glass, painted photographs, installations, artists’ books, films, etc.).
Her work has been presented in many international institutions including MoMA (New York, US), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, US), ZKM (Karlsruhe, GE), Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, US), The Power Plant (Toronto, CA), Tate Modern (London, UK), Imperial War Museum (London, UK), GB), the biennials of Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, the Etchigo-Tsumari Triennial, the Rencontres Photographiques d’Arles, and in Paris the MNAM – Centre Pompidou, theGalerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, the Musée Zadkine, Musée Rodin, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris MAMVP, etc.
Sophie Ristelhueber’s works are held in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Fine Art (Boston, US), the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, US), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa, CA), the MNAM – Centre Georges-Pompidou (Paris, FR), and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, (Paris, FR), the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, GB), the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris, FR), the Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris, FR), the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain (FR) and various Regional Funds of Contemporary Art (Brittany, Upper Normandy, Lower Normandy, Corsica, PACA).