Betty Bui’s work questions several spaces all at once: the physical space of architecture and the immaterial space of motif and image. Her sculptures or, more precisely, her “constructions” with their motifs borrowed from architecture (windows, doors, chairs, benches) call our perceptive habits into question. She upsets ratios of scale, multiplies and erases vanishing points, and blurs the boundaries between interior and exterior, private and public. Betty Bui is most especially interested in the links which can be woven between the objects she constructs and the places she occupies, be it their history, their function, or the people who live in them and move about in them. Systematic analysis of the context forms the conceptual basis of each work. In 1999, with Gilles Coudert, she thus invited seven artists to occupy Benifallet in Spain during the traditional holidays. For this Primera Estació (“first station” in Catalan), she placed on the river traces of giant footsteps made of wooden slats to connect the village to the old station and thus link back up with a past history. In 2003, she placed a Tache de chaleur/Patch of Heat on Avenue Pierre-Mendès France in Paris, as part of the Nuit Blanche event. Whether platform or wooden bench, as an over-sized mark in the city space, this hybrid object questioned our individual and collective relationship to the public place. This is also what is involved in Tapis vagues, an installation in the grounds of Chamarande Castle, where the carpets concentrate the image of the territory on a small scale. As a faraway and close-up vision, object and image here merge in this desire to identify the object with the space in which it is. Invited in 2004 to occupy the private home of a gallery owner, Betty Bui set up a fantasized piece of furniture, a cross between a Louis XVI style piece of furniture and erotic objects, tributes to Serge Gainsbourg’s Hôtel Particulier, and to Sade. More recently, Para-sols (2008), Candel’arbres (2009) for Reunion Island, and Lit’vre (2008), all playing on an association of words thus invite us to physically experiment with a world which is at once known and, here, re-known.
Betty Bui studied at the School of Fine Arts in Saint-Etienne, and in Barcelona. She lives and works mainly in Paris, while being involved with many projects abroad. Her career has been staked out by several solo shows. She took part in the Rayon Frais in Tours (2008) and in the Lou Tempo Festival at Saint-Leu on Reunion Island (2009).