Sophie Berrebi is a writer, art historian and occasional curator. Her writing has appeared in frieze, Afterall, Metropolis M, and Art and Research, among other publications. She received her PhD from the Courtauld Insitute of Art, University of London in 2003, and is based at the University of Amsterdam where she teaches the history and theory of photography and contemporary art. She is a member of ASCA, the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis.
Sophie Berrebi welcomes all B.A and M.A students wishing to write their final thesis in English on 20th century art. while a generalist, her specialty areas include: art and photography, contemporary art, globalisation, Art and Cinema, contemporary art and aesthetics, Art of the post-war period in Europe and the United States, exhibition history, the politics of the museum.
Jean Dubuffet and the City is an exhibition dedicated to the seminal post-war European painter and sculptor, and his lifelong fascination with urban space. Curated by Dubuffet specialist Dr Sophie Berrebi, with the Fondation Dubuffet contributing research advice, this is the first presentation that focuses on exploring the role of the city in Dubuffet’s four decades of artistic accomplishments, highlighting the artist’s shifting depiction of urban characters, and the visual and experiential dynamism of Paris that influenced his work. The exhibition features over 50 important paintings, works on paper, architectural and sculpture models on loan from international private and public collections, which are displayed thematically to demonstrate the artist’s continuous and nuanced engagement with the city.
curator: Sophie Berrebi | Hauser & Wirth Gallery, Zürich, | 9 June- 1September 2018
‘Dubuffet and the City: People, Place and Urban Space,’ is the first in-depth study to address the work of Jean Dubuffet (1901 – 1984) in relation to the theme of the city. The book examines how the city plays a role in the formation and unfolding of Dubuffet’s practice and imagination as a material, a source, and a vehicle for ideas. It analyzes works in which the artist depicts city dwellers, sites and urban spaces, and discusses his architectural projects from the 1960s and 1970s against the background of heated debates in the field of urbanism. The book accompanies and extends the exhibition ‘Jean Dubuffet and the City’ at Hauser & Wirth Zürich (10 June – 1 September 2018). Along with full color reproductions of art works the book reproduces little-known archival material from the archives of the Fondation Dubuffet. It also includes several texts by Dubuffet that are translated here in English for the first time.
Author: Sophie Berrebi, 2018 | Hauser and Wirth Publishers
‘Dubuffet and the City: People, Place, and Urban Space’ has won the Richard Schlagman Art Book Awards 2019 in the category Best Contribution to Art History and the overall category Best Book Design.
Hubert Damisch, Jean Dubuffet: Entree en Matière. Textes et Correspondances, is a collection of all the texts written by Hubert Damisch on the work of Jean Dubuffet and an edition of the letters that the artist and art historian-philosopher exchanged between 1961 and 1985.
Edited and Introduced by Sophie Berrebi |Co-published by La maison rouge – Fondation Antoine de Galbert, la collection « Lectures maison rouge » and KRP Ringier, 2017
Jean Dubuffet . The Deep End is an exhibition that brings together works by Jean Dubuffet in the collections of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.How can you capture thoughts that shoot off in all directions, in a painting? And how can you represent a world that is beyond objective reality in a work of art? From the 1940s onwards, these were the questions that constantly preoccupied Jean Dubuffet .The exhibition seeks to present these questions through a discplay of works dating form the 1950s and 1960s.
curator: Sophie Berrebi | Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam | 1 Jul 2017 - 7 Jan 2018.
The Shape of Evidence is a single-authored book that examines the role and use of visual documents in contemporary art, looking at artworks in which the document is valued not only as a source of information, but also as a distinctive visual and critical form. It addresses several issues that are key both in art and in general culture today: the role of the museum and archive, the trust that is placed in visual documents, and the circulation of such images. The book’s uniqueness, however, mostly derives from its method: the author bases her argument on a close reading of a select number of works by artists such as Christopher Williams, Fiona Tan, and Jean-Luc Moulène. This makes it both accessible and engaging. The Shape of Evidence invites viewers to critically reflect upon the production and interpretation of visual documents, and proposes that some artists can show us how to turn these deceptively simple images inside out.
Author: Sophie Berrebi | 2015, Valiz | supported by Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds | paperback | 265 pp. | 20 x 15,5 cm (h x w) | English | ISBN 978-90-78088-98-1
Platform: Body/Space Departing from its original definition the term platform has migrated to countless figurative uses that become multiplied in the digital context: platform investments, platform technologies, platform thinking, platform economy etc. In all of these new meanings, the idea of a stable base shifts to a dynamic one on which immaterial things such as ideas and images can be viewed and shared and events can be performed. In a most basic way, platforms isolate people from the ground: they divide and organize space, and they support the body, acting as a shelter and a stage. This series of four research exhibitions each dedicated to a specific platform (yoga mat, beach towel, tatami and prayer rug) questions the function of the platform as a mediator between the human body and space, both material and digital. The small presentations, running from June 2016 to January 2017 will investigate the trans-cultural uses and history of each platform through visual culture in order to interrogate their material and symbolic meanings.
Curated by Sophie Berrebi | Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam | June 2016 - January 2017
Il faut que le masque ait dansé: The title of this exhibition cites a catchphrase used among collectors of African art to express the principle that an object’s value depends on its having been used in its original context. It should bear traces of its past life, however much the facts of that life are obliterated when the mask or statue is displayed as a decorative object in a Western interior. The paradoxes inherent in this seemingly straightforward quest for authenticity expose a multitude of interrelated questions regarding the conditions and contexts governing the production and circulation of African art objects and their reception in the West. This exhibition uses four thematic displays – including a modernist interior of around 1960 – to re-examine some of the distinctions that structure our perception of these objects: document versus work of art; pre-colonial versus colonial or post-colonial; and public versus private practices of collecting. At the core of the exhibition is a private collection of objects from the Congo assembled in Belgium since the late 1960s. These objects are presented alongside a selection of contemporary artworks that function as ‘theoretical acts’.
Curated by Sophie Berrebi | Marres, Centre for Contemporary Culture, Maastricht |15 june-18 August 2013
Les oeuvres des artistes réunis dans l'exposition Papier Photo sont traversées par la question du document photographique, objet a priori stable et factuel mais ici poussé vers un brouillage et une illisibilité qui révèle le caractère obsolète de la photographie. Le point de départ de l’exposition est un projet de recherche sur le document comme forme artistique dans l’art contemporain. Employé dans le photo conceptualisme et les pratiques éphémères des années soixante et soixante-dix, le document redevient central dans le « tournant documentaire » des années 1990. Là comme avant, il est traditionnellement perçu comme une forme non remarquable, plutôt neutre, dont la valeur se situe au niveau du contenu : faits, témoignages, preuves. Mais a l’opposé de ces conceptions, certains artistes voient dans le document une forme, qui sous couvert de n’être qu’un contenu, articule et perpétue des systèmes de distribution du savoir. Ces artistes examinent les conventions de présentation des documents et les pratiques discursives auxquelles ils se rattachent afin de les démanteler et de réfléchir à la production, la circulation et la nature même de savoir. Ce travail critique fait apparaître le document comme une forme instable et équivoque bien plus que comme fait absolu.
Curated by Sophie Berrebi and Frédérique Valentin |Galerie Chez Valentin, Paris |27 February - 3 April 2010.
The exhibition Documentary Evidence brings together five artists from two different generations, whose works propose an acute and multifold reflection on the photographic document. Revolving around the manipulation of archival material, the use of found photographs and printed sources, the interplay between visual and verbal, signs and images, these works suggest that far from being a factual evidence, the photographic document is a highly unstable object that lends itself to a plurality of interpretations and manipulations.
Alexandra Leykauf’s rephotographing of magazine centrefolds, Jean-Luc Moulene’s finding in nature of an image that ‘documents’ a 19th century visual puzzle, and Lisa Oppenheim’s reactualisation and extension of FSA photographs epitomize different strategies that counter the simplistic view of the photograph as a transparent means of conveying ‘the real’. The notion of “ Documentary evidence” proposed in the title is used in an ironic way, referring to the process of elaborating upon what appears to be an evidence, and to question its possible validity as proof, by showing the layering of meaning present in one image. Through their sophisticated and reflective approach to the photographic document, the artists from both generations seem to work through, in different ways, the heritage of conceptual art photography, whether through reworking the question of art documentation to the absurd (Ross Birrell) or playing with notions of truth and falsification (Christopher Williams).
Curator: Sophie Berrebi| Galerie Chez Valentin, Paris| Spring 2004