Friday, April 25, 2014

Visual Artist Makes Monrovia Animations

French “Visual Artist” François Beaurain has been mining the landscape of this city for at least the past year for photographic projects. Most recently, his animated GIFs on Monrovia, a series he calls Monrovia Animated, have been tossing around the internet for the past few weeks, and finally bubbled to the surface on Fast Company Design, in the slightly-awkwardly titled “Slums of Liberia Spring to Life in these Animated GIFs.” Quoting from FastCo's post:
In his GIFs, Beaurain juxtaposes the static dilapidation of the impoverished capitol [sic] with the colorful and repetitive energy of its citizens, turning them into "a piece of the conveyor belt that animates the city."
Many of Beaurain's GIFs were captured at the ramshackle Ducor Palace Hotel. Once one of the few five-star hotels in Africa [sic], it was closed before the Liberian Civil War, and has been rotting ever since. Beaurain has used the hotel's environs, ravaged by time though they may be, to set into relief the vibrancy and vitality of his subjects.

I actually think some of those that do not take place in the Ducor, and do take place in "the Slums of Liberia" are the most interesting, particularly #068 Monrovia Waterfall (above) and #45 Beauty Salon, with its simple, brilliant gesture of the mis-synced mirror image. I love the simple moment captured in #057, Swept Out (below); so much truth in those few seconds of action, as opposed to the more choreographic attempts. 

As for the use of the Ducor itself, the project is most successful when brightly-dressed, versatile young bodies are moving expertly across the dilapidated spaces (#026), especially the several that emphasize the boundaries of the architectural gestures, such as those that employ the hotel's massive, circular porte-cochere (#34, 36, & 38). 

In terms of how the art relates to Liberia itself, yet another visual co-option of the abandoned Ducor Hotel to intrigue an artistic audience is growing tired from overuse. But at least this newest attempt is expertly executed, and worth checking out. 

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