The former mining village of Barlin in Northern France forms the backdrop for the video Faire le mur (Building the Wall), 2008. The starting point of the film are the injustices suffered by its residents
as their homes are threatened to be demolished because of renovation plans, and it portrays their resistance to the enforced changes. Bertille Bak transforms their protests into a heroic battle against an invisible enemy, represented here by a huge excavator. The video unfolds like a fairytale filmed in a documentary style, creating a surreal atmosphere,
mixing fact and fiction, imagination and reality. The public rebellion of the villagers -blocking a street, building a wall, throwing bricks, pulling houses on wheels, driving in bumper cars stolen from a local amusement park- is staged in a grandiose poetic theatrical form, adorning their rebellious behaviour with playfulness and humour. Bertille Bak creates a magnified reality in which local customs and traditions are translated into larger than life proportions. For another work Rayonnage, 2015, she invited the expelled inhabitants of the village to embroider together a tapestry of Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa, as a symbol of their fate. Consequently she asked them to make more tapestries, based on paintings by Poussin, Goya, Scheffer and others, depicting iconic scenes of persecution. Bak’s work offers an alternative vision on reality and it shows us how a threatening situation can be given a hopeful and positive perspective when imagination is harnessed through social cohesion and collective action.