Hélène Baril was born in the French Alps, but grew up by the sea, the same part of Brittany frequented by the great filmmaker/biologist Jean Painlevé, who among other things, practiced filming under the sea. After getting an MA in literature, Hélène quit her job teaching French to study art. Moving to Finland, she began a career painting houses, purposely confusing the work of fine arts and decoration. Recently, she’s been developing a “tale” involving racecars. In 2011, she created Orlandus Gallery, inspired by a fictional Finnish painter and racing car driver from the early 1800s. The artist also served as inspiration for SBK, an experimental collaborative Hélène founded in 2012, which uses a car for meetings, projects, and as a working tool. Constructing its name and logo after Shell Oil, SBK is “an allegorical and poetic initiative,” whose sphere of operation touches literature, geography, economy, environmentalism, and popular psychology. In 2013 she started a collaboration with anthropologist Michael Taussig in what they call their Sea Theater. Hélène’s work is a fairy tale aimed at confusing real and fictional worlds, or simply encountering the one into the other.

www.sbkland.com (racing car tale)


A conversation

What are you searching for ?
I am searching for the (verbal) expression of a dream I had once.
What was this dream about ?
At first I didn’t know it was only but a dream, at first I thought I was trying to make some art happen.  Is art only but a dream ? haha ! To me maybe that is the case.
What was this art about ?
It was about life and cars, it was my car, it was just my car. I would repaint it and I would drive it. I would go to Finland with it. My first car was called Argus. On october 2011 I created Argus and I would leave from Paris and go to Finland with Argus.  The trip had a name, it was called « I escape from Paris with my racing car ». My second car was called SBK, - SBK is the acronym of Shell Bar Kyröskoski. A bar located in Finland in a Shell gaz station. Nowadays this gaz station no longer exists, and I am enclined to think  it is a sign.
A sign of what ?
The sign of an end. The confirmation of my thoughts. Some kind of objective guidance.
The end of what ?
The end of my dream.  The end of one dream. Coz life is still long and dreams will find their place again.
Could you tell us more about it, about this precise dream ?
I do my best to express myself verbally, but as I already told you, this is what I am looking for, THE VERBAL EXPRESSION OF A DREAM I HAD ONCE.  Words are not easy to come out, probably because of  my love for silence and probably because of my personal history.
May we know more about your personal history ?
You ‘re being too curious. I will tell about my personal history when time comes. When I know which way of expressions can be right for it. I kind of like the dialogue we’re having. You know it is a great tradition in litterature, it reminds me of Diderot. It also reminds me of some Nouvelle Vague movies. You can see I am french !  Sigh.
Why do you sigh, because you’re french ?
I just sigh. Let’s talk later.