Julie Béna’s work is made up of an eclectic set of references, combining contemporary and ancient literature, high and low art, humor and seriousness, parallel times and spaces. Comprising sculpture, installation, film, and performance, her work seems to often float in an infinite vacuum, unfolding against a fictional backdrop where everything is possible. Over the past years, Béna has developed a range of personal cosmologies in which she stages seemingly banal characters and objects that have enigmatic conversations and interactions with each other. From Pantopon Rose – a character taken from William S. Burroughs’ ‘Naked Lunch’ –, to Miss None and Mister Peanut – a disembodied floating wig and the iconic monocled anthropomorphic peanut –, Béna lends her characters a singular agency and voice, which defines them by what they are not.
Julie Béna was born in 1982 in Nice, France, and currently lives and works between Prague and Paris. She is a graduate of the Villa Arson, Nice, and attended the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. In 2012–13, she was part of le Pavillon, the research laboratory of the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. In 2018, she was nominated for the Prix AWARE women art prize.
Béna had solo exhibitions at Kunstverein Bielefeld (2020); Kunstraum, London (2020); Jeu de Paume, Paris (2019); CAPC musée d’art contemporain, Bordeaux (2019); the Amparo Museum, Puebla, Mexico (2019); and CAC Passerelle, Brest, FR (2017). Her work has recently been exhibited at the Biennale de Rennes, FR; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, FR; Polansky Gallery, Brno, CZ; 1646, The Hague, NL; C art C Madrid, ES; Bozar, Brussels, BE; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris and San Francisco; Protocinema, Istanbul, TR, and Chapter NY, New York, US. Béna has staged numerous performances, including at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; ICA, London, UK; M Leuven, BE; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, FR; and Performa NY, US.
Béna took part in a number of residencies, including at Fonderie Darling, Montreal, CA; Futura, Prague, CZ; ISCP, New York, US; Moly Sabata, Sablons, FR; CCF, Surabaya; Rupert, Vilnius, LT; INI project, Prague, CZ.
In 2017, Béna’s first book, It needs to be tender and to be whipped, was published by Montez Press, and launched in Paris, New York, and San Francisco. In 2019, her first monograph was published by the Jeu de Paume, Paris, accompanying the artist’s solo exhibition at the museum.