Leïla Payet’s work focuses on the “origin story” of the insular territory she lives in. Her starting point is an atlas of research that consists in a collection of images and data, which she uses to compose open-ended and conversational works. These works centre on so-called “primitive” or “exotic” art and their peripheral existence in globalised thought. Designed as embryonic productions based on a primitive language, they are meant as “repeated refrains, graphic emissions, bursts of thought”. Each series, including the central No statuts/No statues, explores the way in which thoughts, discourses and images are constructed, and questions the “creolisation process” that lies at the heart of colonisation and decolonisation. Hers is a work in progress that questions our “ways of seeing” and implicitly raises the issue of the struggle for the rehabilitation of stories, languages and territories that have been stifled, contorted and dispossessed.
Leïla Quillacq, excerpt from a text and interview with the artist, for documents d’artistes La Réunion, 2020.