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Art : Concept: Julien Audebert - LES JEUX FUNERAIRES | Pierre-Olivier Arnaud - D’ICI -LÀ - 2 Apr 2011 to 30 Apr 2011

Current Exhibition

2 Apr 2011 to 30 Apr 2011

Art : Concept
13 rue des Arquebusiers
F - 75003
p: +33 1 53 60 90 30
f: +33 1 53 60 90 31

Julien Audebert
vue de l’exposition
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Artists in this exhibition: Julien Audebert, Pierre-Olivier Arnaud

Pierre-Olivier ARNAUD

opening : Saturday the 2nd of April 6 - 9 p.m.
2nd to 30th of April 2011

For his second solo exhibition at art: concept, Julien Audebert proposes three new works that bring into play sculpture, cinema and photography. These works are linked together by their iconographic themes and their sources of inspiration.

Audebert exploits a vast chronological period and reaches across several different domains of social sciences and humanities. As a whole, the exhibition metaphorically relies on tracking or on vast panoramic shots. The works consist of acts and narratives that draw as much from our contemporary time as from history, Greek mythology, archeology, and Near Eastern antiquities. The parallels that the artist establishes are equally intuitive and structural, and they not only reveal but also add a layer of fiction to the body of knowledge produced by these disciplines.

Through juxtaposition, the artist effectively levels the methods, tools, and manners used to explain, represent and bear witness a culture or reexamine an event with hindsight. This allows him to mix together divers cultural elements – from Babylon, Ancient Greece and the American Far West – and the possible imagery that can come about: whether it be through writing (in terms of content or components that are either purely visual or plastic), archeological relics, three-dimensional reconstructions, or other pictorial and photographic representations.
The Searchers[1], which takes its name from the film that was the initial source of inspiration, is a panoramic view of a landscape built from several images: one scene is from the film itself and some images are from the documentary about the making of the film that was made at the same time. In Audebert’s cynical vision of the cinematographic process, the fiction that had taken the spotlight now shares the same space and time with the backside of the set: they are both photography, through completely different ways, renders invisible film techniques and editing procedures. The format enables the public to take in the work as a whole and to gaze horizontally from one piece to the next and from one side of the shot to the other. Finally the focal point draws the spectator into the center of these images.

The artist’s approach to the deconstruction and reconstruction of cinema mimics a metonym: he tackles the content and the container in order to question the making of myths and the collective American imagination.
His sculptures Chant 23 (la course de chars) and Sandbagwal both interweave viewpoints and shift through concentric circles. Chant 23 (la course de chars) is governed by the actions described in a passage from Homer’s Iliad. 70mm film (a cinematographic technique that is today obsolete) was chosen as the medium for this ancient text. This film is not projected. If it was, it would only result in a white horizontal line that sparkles for 6 seconds and it would send the spectator spinning, literally turning in circles like a chariot in a coliseum. Through a sort of mutual accord, the text has become indistinguishable from the film and together they generate their own form: an Archimedean spiral where the grooves have very slight inflection points at regular intervals which allow for the coiled text in its totality to remain visible.
Inside the Letter (the Clue) (2008) acts as a counterbalance: the spectator must travel through a maze of walls on which Edgar Poe’s The Purloined Letter is scribbled. Here the spectator may only grasp the piece by walking around the text.

The third sculpture and the installation in situ Sandbagwal was erected with the impartiality of an Anastylosis or a military fortification. Audebert chose to reproduce on a large scale a section of the famous Ishtar Gate ordered by King Nebuchadnezzar II for the inner city of Babylon – and in a totally incongruous material. Irony motivates the artist: this archeological site is in present-day Iraq and has been engulfed by the American military base "Camp Alpha." In 2007, an article in the newspaper Le Monde [2] disclosed that the military may have filled sandbags with dirt from this site, which is potentially an archeological gold mine. Therefore Audebert prolonged his metonymical organization of knowledge and fiction: the ruins of Babylon are potentially shattered in bags grouped together here – grounds for a single motive.

Caroline Soyez-Petithomme, translation Ellen Le Blond-Schrader
[1] The Searchers, by John Ford, 1956
[2] "Quand Babylone s'appelait Camp Alpha," in Le Monde, August 16, 2007

Pierre-Olivier ARNAUD - D’ICI -LÀ (By Then)
By Then is the second solo exhibition by Pierre-Olivier Arnaud at art: concept. This linguistically ambiguous title was chosen after the images had been selected and, it was through hindsight and feedback, that the artist decided what the project as a whole would be.

The prepositional phrase denoting time, “by then,” synthesized the idea of a continuous present, of a situation that is going on right now and which has a hypothetical future in the distance that can only be imagined. In order to express this temporal contradiction, this future that is essentially impossible to nail down and to embody, he contracts juxtaposing adverbs – “by” and “then” – the first denotes space and the second time. This literally creates an abstract space that bridges time. The two words superimpose time and space upon each other.

This semantic house of mirrors, so important to the artist’s work, here masquerades as an introduction. Pierre-Olivier Arnaud harnesses language, which similar to his images, remains fragmented without a beginning or an end: it is reframed without a frame. The functional expression here gives rise to an ordinate. Potentially designating his endeavor, which consists of dissecting the whole and its parts in order to stimulate and enrich the senses, the expression echoes the transformation process that the artist scrupulously applies to the images.

For this project Cosmos, he crisscrossed all of Europe, focusing on Eastern Europe, searching for hotels named Cosmos. Having captured on film each hotel’s location and surroundings, he gives a fresh perspective on the architecture, natural environments, as well as the spaces and fragmental spaces that seem abandoned. Arnaud notes that his production "deconsecrates" the images, as evidenced by the fact that their aesthetic is reduced to the lowest denominator: deafened and desiccated, grey tones. Details are blown-up until they become blurs and abstracts grow into monochromes. Some of these ghostly figures are nonetheless brought to order by a black edge, like a mechanical and radical gesture caused by a printing error – an accelerated fade-out, rendered abrupt, which evokes the continuous space of Barnett Newman’s painting and iconic zips. Arnaud opposes the melancholy and romanticism of ex-bloc communist ruins with the radicalism borrowed from minimal art that has become the emblematic aesthetic of capitalism.

The nonstop questioning of the pictorial surface and the construction of the image persists throughout his work. The illusion of depth created by aligning images of different formats reveals a discreet relationship to architecture and metaphorically threatens the use (or lack) of a space dedicated to the representation of culture. At times, the content has been brought back from the brink in order to faintly show figurative art – a modernist sculpture down from its pedestal – and the artist has documented the successive marginalization, both temporal and spatial, in the heart of public space. By Then is amongst other things a poetic attempt to recollect the universal fate of images, to preserve their meaning and to question the very pertinence of the term “public space.”
Caroline Soyez-Petithomme, translation Ellen Le Blond-Schrader

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