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Extenuating circumstances

13 - 21 September 2018

ARTISTS: Lek & Sowat

Director: Cristobal Diaz

Extenuating Circumstances is an evocative title in a world where urban art is torn between the judicial convictions of some and the institutional recognition of others. Lek & Sowat are self-taught artists from the illegal practice of graffiti, but recognized and exhibited by official cultural institutions, and in particular by the Villa Medici, which welcomed them as boarders under the title of "urban artists" (new name) in 2016.

With this film, Cristobal Diaz reflects on the writing of a history of contemporary art and his plastic research. He chooses to start from an exhibition to end up with a film that offers several possible levels of reading, through an aesthetic thought and mastered as part of an in situ realization. The viewer is immersed in the heart of a creative universe tinged with humor and colors where the artistic gesture, central, is highlighted. With an ingenious articulation of staging, plans and sounds, the director manages to choreograph a work that takes shape before our eyes. The purpose is thus part of the perspective of highlighting the virtuosity of the artists Lek and Sowat and the richness of such collaborative work.


Devoted to the implementation of the eponymous exhibition created by artists Lek and Sowat curated by Elise Herszkowicz in the spring of 2017 at the Pavillon Carré de Baudouin in Paris, this film explores the question of the creative process through an unprecedented narrative. Inspired by their intervention at the Drawing Hotel where Carine Tissot gave them carte blanche, they created at the heart of this exhibition, a room composed of the graphic elements used at the Drawing Hotel. It is in this continuity that Christine Phal, director of the Drawing Lab, a private art center dedicated to contemporary drawing, offers a week that returns to the plastic universe of the duo of artists, with an artistic intervention in situ and regular screenings of the film.



Circonstances Atténuantes_Lek & Sowat

Lek & Sowat, Extenuating Circumstances, 2018
Director Cristobal Diaz
© Lek & Sowat


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Portrait Lek & Sowat


Lek grew up in the nineteenth arrondissement of Paris on the edge of the Stalingrad wasteland and followed the effervescence of graffiti of the 80s. Working most often in disused industrial areas, his rigid compositions adapt to the constraints of the place and reveal them.
Sowat made his first paintings on the railways, highways and wastelands of Marseille in the late 90s. Member of the DMV collective, he develops a calligraphic work inspired by the cholo writing of Chaz Bojorquez.
In 2012, the Mausoleum project, which saw them clandestinely gather forty urban artists in an abandoned shopping center, which later opened the doors of the Palais de Tokyo. Surrounded by about fifty iconic urban artists, Lek & Sowat spent two years creating an experimental exhibition in the building's emergency exits, initiating what would become the Lasco Project, the art center's first official urban art program.

Since then, they have multiplied collaborations with artists from backgrounds as varied as the beat poet John Giorno, the stylists Agnès B and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, the pioneers of graffiti who are Futura, Mode2 and Jonone or Jacques Villeglé, precursor of street art. It is with the latter that they realize the project Tracés Directs, which entered the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou. They participated in the exhibition Oxymores at the Ministry of Culture in April 2015 and realized with eight hands a work with the artists Jacques Villeglé and O'Clock, still visible today rue des Bons-Enfants (Paris 1st).


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Cristobal Diaz

Cristobal Diaz is a director, photographer and visual artist and develops his taste for writing and image very early.

He directed his first film Bloodshed (Fulldawa Prod), with which he won numerous awards at festivals, confirmed his talent as a self-taught artist and took him to the realization of a second film The furthest possible (Fulldawa Prod), awarded in turn.

Since 2008, he has been creating and implementing "Artistik Performance", a video art concept that explores artistic creation, particularly that which takes place in the street and the practices that emerge from it. This singular aesthetic experience brings together more than sixty films that retrace the creative process of contemporary urban artists.

In 2015, he set up an original device, the "graff box". A singular tool for real-time shots of the artistic gesture and the work being created, the "graff box" questions a certain temporality and the contemporaneity of urban creation. It is a question of keeping track of these graphic and typographic creations of urban artists; and to deploy, over time, a device that allows archiving articulated within a strong and unprecedented aesthetic form in this field. The development of this innovative project is supported by public cultural institutions and benefits from several artistic residencies (La Villette, Villa Belleville, General Directorate of Artistic Creation of the Ministry of Culture).

In 2016, Cristobal Diaz began writing a documentary film about the world of graffiti and its most prestigious French artists. He is currently in development of this documentary film with the company Cent Productions.