Catalogue text / Swedish Hearts 2004

A documentary and biographical tone pervades in the works of Loulou Cherinet. They always include actual people in more or less arranged situations. She makes no secret of the fact that the situations in her films and photos are constructed, but the difference between reality and image is not that great. The actors in her films always play themselves, even if the situation is arranged, but it may not differ much from the situations and the parts they - and the viewer - normally have in the social space.

In the video White Women (2002), for instance, the setting is a dinner at a large table where all the guests, all men of African origin, are filmed with a rotating camera in the centre of the table, as they sit dressed in striped sailor tops discussing their experiences of white women.

In the serene and remarkably charged photos of her White Man Series (2001) the subject is instead a white man whom Loulou Cherinet happened to meet in Ethiopia. She takes him along to various cafes, arakebets (bars that serve home-made liquor), zuks (kiosks), shoe-shiners and marketplaces in Awasa, where he is the indisputable centre of attention for all the others. Regardless of place, the scenario as always the same, an electrified atmosphere surrounding this white man. In the pictures he is the dazzling, obvious surface for their projections.

In both White Women and the White Man Series, as in most of Loulou Cherinet's works, it is significant that the relationship between the depicted people and the viewer feels unsevered. You can never really say that the artist's presence is noticeable in the image, since the depicted appear to ignore the camera, and therefore, the viewer easily slips inside the picture. It feels like getting very close something the artist wants us to see or hear, but which she does not want to present herself or state out loud. Through these unexpected openings into the pictures, created by documentary dramaturgical means, she opens up the situations that the pictures relate to the viewer. This is an equilibristic play with shifts in perspective and perception both within and outside the picture, two positions that, in Loulou Cherinet's case, always seem to be two sides of the coin.

Rodrigo Mallealira