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The 6th Art Brut Biennial will be devoted to Faces, a recurring theme in Art Brut. It will feature more than 330 works held by the Collection de l’Art Brut, drawing attention to the many ways in which the face is put front and centre, in different contexts, and using different media, techniques and forms.

Our face is what makes us unique. Its features and expressions convey everything about us: body and mind. The featured works invite us to reflect on elements of otherness in ourselves – a uniquely personal experience that challenges us and opens our eyes to the world of the intimate. To borrow the words of French philosopher and art historian Georges Didi-Hubermann, “what we see looks back at us”.

In the context of Art Brut, a form of art whose existence is driven by creative necessity, this exploratory exercise takes on a distinctive character. No matter how socially or culturally marginalised their creators, these works bring to the fore what it is that makes us human.

These faces – some attentive, questioning or communicative, others vacant – evoke a process of searching or withdrawal, forcing us to question, as if through a mise en abyme, our inherently personal experience of humanity and the world around us. These assorted facial features take us, as Marcel Duchamp’s “viewer”, on an ever-changing journey that touches upon – and even destabilises – the very foundations of our identity. Just as these faces are guests at the biennial, so they invite us to enter their world and the world of their creators. 
So let us accept this invitation, issued without embellishment or deference, and be transported by the energy these faces convey, no matter how reassuring or troubling it may be.

The exhibition is divided into six sections, each representing a particular creative method, function or approach: Emerging Faces, Faces in Relief, Portraits, Graphical Variations of Faces, Travelling Faces and Textile Faces. 

Curated by Pascal Roman, professor of clinical psychology, psychopathology and psychoanalysis at the University of Lausanne

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