Collections and research

Absolute Installation

Silvie and Chérif Defraoui

Swiss artist Silvie Defraoui collaborated with her husband Chérif until his death in 1994. As a couple they were pioneers of video art and have had a tremendous influence on the Swiss-French art scene.

© Silvie og Chérif Defraoui, Les Puits, 1992, videoinstallation

They often combined found photographic material with their fragmentary video installations. Silvie Defraoui continues to work with the couple’s long-term project which they called Archive du Futur (Future Archives), an evolving archive that contains their entire artistic output.

The work titled Les Puits (The Wells), from 1992, consists of a film projection on a circular formation of sand and salt on the floor. We are looking down into a well, and the camera zooms gradually toward the water at the bottom. The water whips up, and fragmented images of from paintings, skulls, figures, plants and decorative silhouettes come rushing by. Some of the images are recognizable, while others are more abstract. The varied frequencies are perhaps arranged thematically, but like the human process of recollection they have the quality of a fragmentary memory. Wells are often used as a metaphor for the seat of knowledge, a somewhat bottomless source of memories and history that rarely conform to an actual timeline, yet are also puzzling, poetic and inspire wonder.

Silvie Defraoui was born in 1935 in St. Gallen in Switzerland. She lives and works in Switzerland and Spain.

Randi Godø