musée d'art contemporain
de Bordeaux


02.02.2017 -> 28.05.2017


The independent publishing house Beau Geste Press (BGP) was founded in 1971 by the Mexican artists’ couple Martha Hellion and Felipe Ehrenberg. Together with their two children, they moved into a farmhouse in Devon, in the English countryside, where, joined by a group of friends that included the artist and art historian David Mayor, they formed ‘a community of duplicators, printers and artisans’.



Beau Geste Press was active until 1976, printing the work of visual poets, neo-Dadaists and international artists affiliated with the Fluxus movement such as Ulises Carrión, Helen Chadwick, Ken Friedman, Carolee Schneemann, Yukio Tsuchiya and Cecilia Vicuña. Specialising in limited-edition artists’ books, it published the works of its own members, but also those of many of colleagues worldwide. In the spirit of cottage industry, Beau Geste Press adapted its methods and scale to its needs, keeping all stages of production, from design and printing to distribution via the postal network, under the same – bucolic – roof.

The exhibition surveys the history of Beau Geste Press through the 75 books published by its founding members and their guests or occasional visitors during its five years of existence. It documents the creativity, productivity, working methods and international influence of this short-lived community, which ran an early version of the artist residency. Although it operated from the periphery of the main artistic centres of its time, Beau Geste Press was undoubtedly one of the most productive and influential publishing ventures of its generation.

The printed matter on display is punctuated by a series of aluminium sculptures by the French artist Xavier Antin. A succession of machine-like works whose functioning seems to have been temporarily suspended, they conjure up operations or gestures related to the duplication or revelation of images, purposely aestheticising the myths surrounding the sacrosanct space of the workshop.

Entitled ‘Something of Beau Geste in common’, a series of interventions, workshops, and specific projects involving collectives, artists, non-profit organisations and students from the New Aquitaine region also accompanies this historical presentation. Unfolding in a dedicated space over the entire duration of the exhibition, this programme brings together six participants: Atelier Bulk, Disparate, L’Insoleuse, Our Fortress, students from the seminars ‘Book Society’ at EBABX Bordeaux with Lisa Robertson as special guest, and ‘Bibliomatrix’ at EESI Angoulême-Poitiers.
All appropriate and develop contemporary interpretations of the methods and spirit of Beau Geste Press as a model of production, reproduction and artistic diffusion that anticipated the networking practices of the digital age.


Curator: Alice Motard
With support for research in art theory and criticism by the Centre national des arts plastiques

Exhibition Designer: Benedeta Monteverde

This exhibition is supported by the Mexican Cultural Institute of Paris



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