During his residency in Béthune, Brian Griffin chose to devote his time to one of the largest potato fries factories in Europe: McCain and because of Bethune’s past as a battlefield, to history of the First World War.
On the other hand, 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the war, and it turns out that Labanque is located in Bethune, the exact place where British soldiers were stationed during 1914-1918. This gave him the idea to work of potential resonances between England and the north of France. Soon, Brian was arrested by the number of deaths during the First World War, on the Western Front: 700,000 in Verdun, one million during the Battle of the Somme, closer to Bethune, during which the English suffered the greatest number of casualties in a single day, and this for the entire history of the British Army. The idea that the blood, the bones, the members of the soldiers were present in the soil where the potatoes that nourish us grow gave rise to a project that questions the territory, the history and the war, in a tenuous way . The exhibition, on the other hand, is built on the theme of a Cluedo game and refers to the Twin Peaks series, whose interest in irrationality and postmodernism it shares.
Conversation between Anne Braybon, Federica Chiocchetti, François Hébel, Brian Griffin and Valentine Umansky, recorded in Paris, November, 2017.
Brian Griffin in residence at Labanque in Bethune has worked and observed his perspective on the Northern region, which is, in a way, similar to the one in which he grew up and which is called the Black Country in England both from the point of view of the landscape and from a common working past.
SPUD indeed, it is a term “vulgar” which means potato.
It is also one of the nicknames given to soldiers during the First World War (Spud-Mutt).
Exhibition Labanque at Bethune from March 17 – July 22, 2018
Brian Griffin born in 1948 in Birmingham, in the heart of the Black Country (UK), he now lives and works in London. He worked for a few years for the British Steel Corporation before starting his photography studies at Manchester Polytechnic. Subsequently, he collaborates with various magazines as well as for the record industry and public and private commissions. In 1987, he was exhibited for the first time at the Rencontres d’Arles. Throughout his career, he has independently published several books and artist’s books. His work is now part of the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, from the Museum Folkwang in Essen.
Independent and critical Curator, It Worked for several years with Specialty galleries photography.