Lena Maria Thüring, Guardien de la paix (GPX), 2011. Video still

Guardien de la paix (GPX)

2011. HD Video, single channel, 16:9, colour, sound, French, English subtitles, 18′ 47″

The artist met the young French policeman in “Gardien de la paix (GPX)” (2011) during a visit to the Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration (previously Musée de la France d’Outre-mer and Musée des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie) in Paris. Ever since the building’s opening its basement has housed an aquarium containing fish from all the former French colonies. The policeman regularly visits this aquarium in his free time, and it turns out to be his personal defiant garden. The protagonist, whom we don’t see, only hear, describes his difficulty of finding a balance between his private life and his public function. He also has to function in the collective of the state which is embodied by his uniform. With him as with the others, we gradually hear his own story which tells of his parents’ origins in Guadeloupe and everyday life as a policeman, in which he often feels as if he had to take in all the world’s hot air. With the fish in the aquarium as backdrop and his choice of words which time and again refer back to the world of animals, his wish for harmony and non-violence has a direct impact on us, and we only gradually realise that our image of a typical policeman has changed.

Sabine Schaschl, Kunsthaus Baselland, Switzerland


Lena Maria Thüring’s work explores individual stories in a reflection on social systems and their underlying constructions using various media, such as photography, performance, video or installation.

The interview forms both the starting point and the staging ground for much of Lena Maria Thüring’s recent filmic work. Her films and videos explore how individuals forge their identities and shield their memories in the shadow of larger group dynamics and the socio-political systems in which they are cast, using personal narrative — its gaps and elisions, its specificity and opacity — to reveal how meaning is constructed, projected, protected, and perhaps deconstructed. Detaching the spoken narrative from the subjects’ bodies and even their voices, Thüring creates a fissure between seeing and hearing, identity and biography. Within this space we can consider the nature of memory, the power of words, and the significance of all that remains unsaid.

Born in Basel 1981, lives and works in Zurich.

Thüring’s work had been shown in solo exhibitions at the Kunsthaus Baselland (2012) and the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel 2013 and in groupshows and screenings at the Kunstmuseum Bern, Kunsthalle Basel, Haus der Kulturen Berlin, the Reina Sofia National Museum Madrid in Spain and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. She received several awards including Swiss Art Award (2008), Kiefer Hablitzel Foundation Award (2011), Grant from Zurich City (2012), Manorkunstpreis Basel (2013) and two artist residencies in Paris (2009) and New York (2010).

Thüring is a member of the Fachausschuss Audiovision und Multimedia BS / BL.