Le Ratoire: Invasive Plants

35 Meadow Street, Brooklyn, NY, 35 Meadow Street, Brooklyn, NY
Poster by Matt McKinzie.

Join us at the FMC Screening Room (475 Park Avenue South, 6th Floor) on Thursday, October 12th, at 7pm, for a fascinating program of plant-processed 16mm films by the artist collective Le Ratoire!


Le Ratoire is a filmmaking collective composed of Léa Lanoë, Pierre Borel (Labo L'argent, Marseille, France), Katherine Bauer, Joyce Lainé, and Loïc Verdillon (Atelier MTK, Grenoble, France). Since 2019, they have elaborated a methodology for collective filmmaking wherein each film is defined by a particular set of parameters; both technical and, especially, situational. Sometimes referring to their practice as “action-filming”, the members of Le Ratoire meet to create all aspects and stages of the film in a single go, from filming, processing, and printing to the final edit.

The name “Le Ratoire” refers to the verb in french, rater, that means “to miss, fail, or flunk” and laboratoire, indicating the analog hand-made laboratory practices that each film is made with. When spoken, it sounds like "l’oratoire," referencing the oracular and prophetic, in echo to the instinct that must be used in each filmmaking experience to find the film’s final form. We begin with a constraint (a place, a theme, a technical method) and embrace the unplanned that emerges within the process. The unexpected “failures” that inevitably occur are as important as the constraints that first inspired the process of their creation; as with any experimental process, the mistakes help delineate a contour and become key for more elaborate and complete understanding. In English, "Le Ratoire” can reference the idea of a ratery or site for the “lab rat"; in this case we are the rats running tests on themselves.



1. Sediments (To be made and completed in September 2023. Estimated time around 40 minutes, 16mm, B&W, with color tinting from the plants used to process the film). A performative portrait of "the river that flows both ways," or Mahicannittuk in Machican (aka The Hudson River) from the water and with the plants. We will canoe the tidal estuary portion from the Federal Dam in Troy to the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean in New York City. For roughly three weeks at the end of the summer of 2023, we will collect sounds and images of our encounters with people, animals, vegetation, industries and more that vie to carve out spaces along the same river we will be living on. We will process the film during the journey with the "invasive plants" harvested along her islands and shores.

2. Avalanche (June 2019, 13 minutes, 16mm, B&W, sound). This film was made using a collection of 16mm educational films made in the 1950 and '60s and distributed by the first non-profit in France, La Fédération des Oeuvres Laîques. This archive is now housed by the collective Dodeskaden next to the film lab L'argent in Marseille. Using this lab for one working week we selected films from this massive archive. The other defining parameter of this film was to use the "projector-copier" technique, in all of its forms, pushing it to its technical limits. We hacked the 16mm projector that we previewed the films with by threading the films through in a variety of ways to make our copy. In certain moments of copying the film a technical experiment or would-be "mistake" caused an avalanche of images. Streaking down the screen emerging in and out of focus, stretched and skipping... what stories tumble out of this manipulation documented time?

3. Flash Info (November 2020, 5 minutes, 16mm, B&W, silent). After the announcement in France of the enforcement of a second COVID confinement, which was starting within 24 hours, we decided to make a film in just this time. We went out into the city then processed in the same moment while camping out in the lab. The film draws from the street and the last newspaper print announcements, before all would be closed, and people confined again to their homes for an undetermined amount of time.

4. L'isle (July 2021, 5 minutes, 16mm, B&W, silent). An experimental music, film, and theater festival called Le Tuquet, in Dordogne, located on the shores of the Isle River, inspires Le Ratoire to achieve their first floating adventure: they propose to take the time to test their recent plant developer recipe and make a film while drifting toward the festival in a makeshift raft, and to avant-premiere the film upon arrival. This small and slow river slowed down time… the crew found themselves meditating… in a strange isolated voyage bordered by the ruminations of the recent reality of Covid… the importance of waiting but also being ready to react when the moment demands.

5. Narcissus and the Travel Agency (August 2022, 17 minutes, 16mm, color and black and white, sound). In this film we worked with everything through and within; in and from a mirror. Looking at ourselves as reflections of reflection on the mythology of this mineral causing mimesis. Decidedly made in 10 days, 10 being a number of a figure "1" looking into 0," the endless mirror.

The following titles are plant processed films by Atelier MTK (members of La Ratoire):

6. La Dernière Vague (Katherine Bauer and Loïc Verdillon, 2020, 8 minutes, sound). A red impression of tidal forms left by the processing with seaweed found at Port Louis, Brittany.

7. L’amitié, c’est pas toujours comme du ski de fond (16mm film, silent, B&W, 2021, 8 minutes). Collectively made with artists from MTK (Grenoble/FR), L’Abominable (Paris/Fr), and Labo Brussels (Bxl/Bel). Filmed and processed in a week of collective research on making developers with just plants and ashes. The luscious bodies of summer show the colors of the plants.

8. Crête, Atelier MTK (16mm film, silent, B&W, 2020, 6 minutes). Tests of various plant processing; nettle, yarrow, sage, and thyme harvested in the Vercors mountains in the Alps. The marriage of working hands and a sun-bathed aesthetic transformation.

9. Abracadabra El Corazón (Katherine Bauer, 16mm film, silent, B&W, 2020, 15 minutes). Made outside of Guadalajara of the local temples, flora and fauna, processed on site with the plants growing around; sage, eucalyptus, cactus, beer and local bee pollen from the market. Fixed with salt sourced from donkey salt licks.

Total Run Time: 117 minutes.


The Collective Labs:

ATELIER MTK, founded in 1992 by a group of filmmakers, is an artist-run cinematographic laboratory equipped to work with Super8, 16mm, and 35mm film. It offers training in lab techniques in order to provide filmmakers with the necessary independence to make their own films. The lab should be considered like a playground. The proposed tools and techniques of the film medium are re-appropriated from the industrial film laboratories in order to encourage filmmakers to consider every element of the film medium & camera work procedures: printing, film development, editing, sound, projection – as a phase with creative potential, to be questioned at will, without a priori.

LABO L’ARGENT, a place of creation and exchange concerning celluloid cinema, was born in spring 2020 in the heart of Marseille. This collective lab unites all those interested in experimenting with film, from shooting with a camera to organizing public projections, or development and reproduction techniques. They emphasize the transmission of technical knowledge with punctual participation of other artisanal labs and public outreach through programming film, performance and music at their lab and elsewhere, in friendly and accomplice places (videodrome 2 – Polygone Etoilé – Data), and sometimes in wild situations!


Members of Le Ratoire :

Katherine Bauer manipulates celluloid film and the cinematic apparatus encompassing the practices of moving and still image, installation, and live performance. Bauer invokes mythologies and folklore as told through the means of obsolete technologies, fusing them with mineral and vegital communications. She is represented by Microscope Gallery (New York). Her work has been exhibited and screened at; Hybris Festival (Brazil), The Pompidou Center (France), Lausanne Underground Film Festival (Switzerland), Estudio Teorema (Mexico), Shoot the Lobster (Germany); Anthology Film Archives, The Knockdown Center, and The Museum of the Moving Image (New York), among others. Bauer received a NYSCA Individual Artist Grant (2023), ESP TV Unit 11 residency (2017), Handmade Film Institute research grant (2016), a Cité Internationale des Arts Paris Residency (2012-13), and a Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Foundation Fellowship (2012-13). She holds a BA in Film Arts from Bard College and a MFA from NYU Steinhardt in Studio Art. She is on the Board of Directors for The Film-Makers' Cooperative of New York and a member of the film collectives Optipus (NY), Le Ratoire, and Atelier MTK (France). She also studied herbalism and worked on various medicinal gardens throughout her life. In the Hudson Valley, NY, she worked for Good Fight Herb Company, Common Hands Farm, and The Abode. She currently lives and works between New York and France.

Pierre Borel is a saxophonist, composer, and filmmaker, working in the field of improvised and experimental music and experimental cinema. From 2006 to 2017, he was residing in Berlin and taking part of the high flow of ongoing creativity that is centered there. He has performed in most European countries, Japan, Russia, and the USA, and is a regular playmate of Joel Grip, Hannes Lingens, Sven-Are Johansson, Christian Lillinger, Axel Dörner, and Tobias Delius, to name a few. He obtained a Master degree at the Jazz Institute in Berlin in 2008, and continues questioning sound and composition through his studies in electro-acoustic music in Marseille. Together with Florian Bergmann and Hannes Lingens, he ran the Umlaut Berlin collective that in recent years released a great number of records and organized four festivals of improvised music. He moved to Marseille in 2017 and co-founded LaboLargent, an artist-run organization for experimental filmmakers.

After studying history of art and literature in Paris (Université Paris-Diderot) and Berlin (TU), Léa Lanoë studied at Ecole National Superieur dʼArt in Bourges, working on sound installations and collages. Between 2013 and 2017, she lived in Berlin, performed in the group Vermulscht, and focused more on experimental filmmaking. In her work, she often collaborates with musicians. In 2017, she took part in the Master degree of Documentary filmmaking in Lussas, France, where she made her first documentary film Nul Nʼest Censé, screened in Les États Généraux du film documentaire, Lussas, Le Festival du Court Métrage de Clermont- Ferrand, Festival les inattendus, Lyon, 2019. She now lives in Marseille, where she created with Pierre Borel and other filmmakers LʼArgent, an artist-run laboratory for analog filmmaking, and works more and more with 16mm.

Loïc Verdillon is a musician, performer, and printmaker. Between 2012 and 2019 he composed music for theater pieces by the company “mais ou l’as-tu.” Since 2010, he’s been an active participant of the musical and cinematographic program at Le 102 in Grenoble, France. Currently, his research is focused on sound, its materiality and forms. He built “yotta-phone,” a performance for multiple megaphones, played at different festivals in the summer of 2015. His graphic works focus on the sound shapes of Ernest Chladni in experimental engraving. In 2015, he combined plastic and audio art for the installation of an “attraction park” made up of dissected loudspeakers, working with the primitive elements of copper, paper, and magnets. Since 2016, he has run and worked at Atelier MTK Independent Cinema Laboratory in Grenoble, France. He has presented Expanded Cinema performances and organized 16mm workshops around the world, in such places as Norway, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Belgium, and Indonesia.

Alongside studies in physics and comparative literature, Joyce Lainé (aka Lucrecia) began making films through the encounters with people NS visions from the NYC film scene (Anthology Film Archives, Microscope Gallery, and Christine Choy). She moved to Grenoble, France and became involved in programming at the 102, an alternative venue for experimental film, music and collective organizations. She also joined Atelier MTK and after participating in a research seminar seeking to fabricate the 1903 autochrome color photography process on film, created a collective performance called "Fecula est-tu là?" (2017) with Clovis LeMaireCardoen, Loic Verdillon, and Etienne Caire. Her first personal film made in France was 40 active warheads (2016), an adaptation of a poem by Daniel Owens, mixing found and personal footage. Recent works include performances with the Un Ensemble, Etienne Caire, Pavel Viry, and the films within the collective “Le Ratoire." Today she continues to work at Atelier MTK.