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The work of Swedish-Lebanese visual artist Sara Badr Schmidt is a continuing exercise in overturning barriers, whether geographic, cultural or artistic. As she juggles painting, collage, photography, video and printing on canvas, she teases the limits of art and design -- without embarrassment, but not without humor.
Badr Schmidt’s work was first shown in Beirut (Circuit Invisible, 1999 and I Want, Strange Fruit, 2002). Returning to Paris, in 2006 she participated in the Artcurial group exhibit, Mickey dans tous ses états, with her piece, Unframed. In spring 2008, she launched her first solo Paris show, Renaissance, at the Galerie Langlet and was subsequently invited to participate in the Parcours Saint-Germain exhibition, based on the theme, Once Upon A Time.
In each of her solo shows, Sara Badr Schmidt treats spatial design as a work in its own right, an ephemeral creation. She leads the visitor into her universe and allows him to make each piece his own, whether physically, by coming close to the work to listen to a headset hung next to a canvas, or intellectually, by creating meaning from what he sees and feels. Sara Badr Schmidt’s works never impose a single meaning. Rather, they favor questions to provocation and irony to mockery. Her Toiles de maître au mètre (masterworks by the meter) are sold by the roll, as they would be at a textile market. Should we interpret that as a practical innovation in the field of interior decoration or as an ironic critique of the art market? And as for the stuffed animals and butterflies in her Who’s Who, are they intended for a baby’s nursery or, rather, a morbid collection of portraits, pinned, like Coleopteras, in a glass display case ?
Whether canvases or light boxes, photographs or video montages, her more recent works tell stories that straddle the borders among worlds. Even the words – whether enigmatic charades or the first sentence of a plot – never explain but, rather, heighten the sense of mystery. Consider this message on a light box, poised between a dream of ecumenism and a vain wish, false naïveté and true commitment: “Press Star to Cross the Moon”.
And last, frontiers are at the heart of her work in progress, Borderless. Sara Badr Schmidt has chosen words from every language and images of the sky as seen from the earth, like arrabbiata (Italian for “angry”), for example, and a stormy horizon in northern Italy. And lagom (Swedish for “in moderation”), paired with Swedish skies scattered with white clouds. Looking toward the sky, from the porthole of an airplane or the sunroof of a car, we can see Babylon restored and, sailing through the air, languages traversing territories.