Growing up as the son of psychiatrists, Venezuelan artist Javier Téllez (°1969) developed a close affinity with patients who suffer from mental illnesses. We can see this continuously reflected in his art. Through installation, film and video, he addresses the general understanding and perceptions of such marginalized populations. Téllez investigates how and where we draw the often rigid line between normal and abnormal, healthy and sick. His work combines pathology with art, and in doing so diffuses the often rigid difference between creativity and anomaly.
Javier Téllez revisits an old, nineteenth century medium called ‘panorama’ to address one of today’s main political issues, namely migration. A panorama is a monumental, circular painting that once held the promise of transporting the spectator into the middle of historically or geographically distant events. The Bourbaki Panorama in Luzern, the location of Téllez’s film, depicts an episode from the end of the Franco-Prussian war of 1871, in which the defeated army of general Bourbaki surrendered to the neighbouring Switzerland. In Téllez’s 35 mm film, the painting is made even more real through the addition of actors impersonating some of its scenes. All participants are refugees currently living in Switzerland. Instead of telling their particular stories, the film invites us to revisit the principles of humanitarianism. At the same time, it recuperates the concept of realism by featuring real people in need of help.