Visual arts

Julie Béna

I try to resist simplifying and digesting information or images too quickly.

She designs works of visual art, performances and films, where fictional characters and settings of all kinds question and deflect the contemporary world: Julie Bena grew up in the world of travelling theatre, and continues to work in a nomadic manner today, imbuing her stories with her many journeys. 

Updated on 04/05/2022

2 min

Born in 1982, Julie Bena spent her childhood and adolescence following the wanderings of a touring theatre troupe for which her mother worked, and often taking to the stage. She studied at Villa Arson in Nice until 2007, then at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.

In 2011, she exhibited this pool of young talent in contemporary art at the Salon de Montrouge, and in 2012 and 2013 she joined the Pavillon, a research laboratory at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. She will exhibit at the 100% Transparent exhibition in New York in 2013, at the Passerelle Contemporary Art Centre in Brest in 2017, and at the Jeu de Paume exhibition in Paris in 2019.

Julie Bena is also an exhibition curator: she co-organised the “Kit Invite” exhibition in 2009 at Kit in Paris, then became curator in 2010 of “Ils chantent, ils jouent, les gens entrent” (“They Sing, They Play, People Come In”) at the Maison des Arts in Grand Quevilly, and in 2018, she collaborated with Shanta Rao on “ 6 of cups" at La Pétanque in Paris.

Julie Béna offers a number of avenues for formal exploration: performances between dance and theatre, animated films and visual art installations. She doesn't shy away from staging or creating characters with complex identities. The ambition that has driven her for the past ten years: to question the constant flow of images and the digital world that characterises our daily lives.

Presented in 2017 at the Passerelle Contemporary Art Centre in Brest, Have you seen Pantopon Rose? is a multiple work, comprising a film and sculptures and featuring a character named Rose Pantopon, played by the artist herself and whose universe borrows as much from cabaret as from the musical.

In her exhibition “Anna & the Jester dans La Fenêtre d’Opportunité” (“The Jester & Death”) presented at the Jeu de Paume in 2019, Julie Bena reflects on the concept of transparency applied to architecture, once again through film and sculptures – including an imposing work table, which is quickly found to be unusable. The idea: to challenge the working environment of glass towers, found in business districts around the world.

Julie Bena lives between Paris and Prague, where she is represented by the Joseph Tang Gallery and the Polansky Gallery respectively. She willingly explains that while her taste for travel was given to her by a nomadic childhood on the roads of France, she now has to travel the world to feed her characters and stories, and take the pulse of the zeitgeist, to better study the issues at stake. She has lived in Indonesia, Montreal, Prague, Los Angeles and New York.

Her work has been exhibited many times abroad: at the Museo Amparo in Mexico City, at the Frieze fair in New York, at Fused Space in San Francisco and at Bozar in Brussels etc.

  • 2011


    Julie Bena is selected to participate in the Salon de Montrouge.

  • 2018


    She is nominated for the AWARE Prize, which recognises female artists.

  • 2019


    At the Jeu de Paume in Paris and at the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux, the artist presents “Anna & the Jester dans La Fenêtre d’Opportunité”.

  • 2020


    A personal exhibit, "The Jester & Death", is presented at Kunstraum in London.

The Institut français and the project

Julie Béna's exhibit, « The Jester & Death », presented in Kunstraum in London from January 10 to February 15, 2020 is supported by the Institut français.

L'institut français, LAB