Green on Red Gallery


Hommes a Femmes (Michel Debrane)
Gerard Byrne

  • 12 Nov - 23 Dec 2004

Green on Red Gallery is pleased to present the Irish premiere of Homme à Femmes (Michel Debrane), a video project by Irish artist Gerard Byrne. This was Byrne’s third solo exhibition at the gallery.

Homme à Femmes (Michel Debrane) is a single channel video projection, which documents an attempt to dramatically re-enact a 1977 interview conducted between the French intellectual Jean-Paul Sartre, and journalist Catherine Chaîne, which was published in Le Nouvel Observateur journal. The project develops from a number of previous projects Byrne has realised, each of which similarly engage a collective amnesia about our shifting cultural history, through dramatic re-enactments of culturally loaded conversations and interviews gleaned from discarded popular magazines. Previous works have delved into the forlorn double page spreads of issues from National Geographic and Playboy during the seventies and eighties; with Homme à Femmes (Michel Debrane) Byrne focuses on a generically ‘candid’ encounter with Sartre, which discusses his relationship with women throughout his life, at a moment towards the end of that life. In the original exchange Sartre, the emblematic European intellectual of the twentieth century, embodies a whole modernist patrimony under the scrutiny of a younger feminist journalist. In Byrne’s project, a journeyman French actor real name Michel Debrane, struggles to re-construct that edifice under the gaze of a camera, while being questioned from off-screen by an actress who plays the journalist Chaîne. Separated by age, and by gender, and formed by different epochs, Sartre a Marxist Modernist, and Chaîne a post ’68 feminist, the schism between the two is dramatised in Byrne’s project through the use of surround sound technology. In Homme à Femmes (Michel Debrane), Sartre never escapes the gaze of the camera, his alienated voice emanating from within the rectangular image. The voice of Chaîne emerges from outside and at odds with that projected image, from somewhere behind the viewer, mingling with both the noisy presence of the film crew in the space behind the camera, and the actual noise of viewers in the space of the gallery. The formal rupture between audio and image within the work, mirrors both the profound historical differences between the conversants, and the gap cleaved by the camera between those before it - Debrane, isolated in his struggle to personify Sartre, and those who stand behind and watch.

Homme à Femmes (Michel Debrane) was commissioned by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, and was co-commissioned and produced by Anna Sanders Films, Paris 2004.



  • For more information or purchase enquiries contact the gallery.

More Information

  • For more information or purchase enquiries contact the gallery.
  • Still from Hommes à Femmes (Michel Debrane)
  • 16mm DVD projection with Dolby 5.1 surround sound, 44mins
Still from Hommes à Femmes (Michel Debrane)
Installation image of Hommes à Femmes (Michel Debrane)
Installation image of Hommes à Femmes (Michel Debrane)

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