Art projects

Vegetal Memorial 2009. in situ “living” installation.

vegetal memorial detail


There’s some trees which have memory, trees which witnesses the History. In the near of Verdun for example, it’s forbiden to cut trees, not because of their venerable age but simply because it would be dangerous to as they carry the remains of time and its sequels, they have their deep heart riddled with Schrap­nell shells since the first world war.
As the human body heals up, the vegetal living as the ability to lick its wounds, to cure, to scarre and literally
« digest » the foreign matters along the years.
History (the one with that big «H») and human life have different time scales, the « vegetal time » can initiate a relationship between them. For that purpose, a solution would be to « feed » the trees, to feed them with trails of the instant, to feed them with pictures, in order to let them keep a mark of an history.

From the scars that the lovers let in their barks and the tendency some trees have to assimilate sometime the road signs nailed on them, there are different fields to explore.

In that first example of intentional scars there’s a poetic and tender aspect but how far can we go in the damaging of the plant physical integrity ? The lopping or pruning can be a positive action for the tree whereas sawing too deep the trunk or important branches can cause irreversible damages.
In the second example, the vegetal living shows its natural and uncontrolled characteristics, like some « pioneer species » that can lead old buildings to fall appart or pine tree roots distorting the pavements, it can be also seen under a terrifying light through its slow ineluctability.
The « Vegetal Memorial » project is an attempt of dialog between concepts of time, tracks, memory, humanity and nature. The purpose of this real-time, in situ installation is to inlay pictures in the trunk in order to make the trees integrate them as a part of themselves.
With an iron punch in the format of the pictures the bark is taken away, in the naked place left by that operation, a piece of plexiglas holding the picture is inlayed.
Despite the anti-UV colors and high-end quality papers the thick plexiglas plate is there to protect the pics against the sunburst and bad weather moisture. For some technical reasons, indeed the strong forces applied by the recovering bark, the size of the pictures should be relatively reduced, for some semantic reasons also, the « identity » picture standard size makes sense.

The choice of portraits leads to two cases :
In a first one, the chosen tree is among a living space, (village square for ex.) its role is not simply to provide shade but also tends to take on a kind of social character (like a « Palaver tree »), often the people of the neighbourhood are attached to that tree,  sometimes even several generations… the tree would then play a kind of genealogic role among the residents and serve as a keeper of the memory from the people who live and lived that place … until their image disappears, swallowed by the trunk.

In a second possibility, the tree lies along a road, in a forest or even a « non-place », the people taken in picture are then only passerbys and anonyms. Ideally a plane tree ( as a figure of banality) would become this way the guardian of a common person’s testimonial of existence, at any time and any place, such common that it becomes really particular in the way it has been operated.

The long period process of healing puts the tree in the very heart of that living experience. From an original performance (setting up the pictures in the bark of the tree), to an installation it becomes also somehow an action that the tree performs by holding the image remains in itself.

Map & territory, 2002. in situ Installation.

In situ installation structured around the concepts of space and its representation.
The process is to cut a map into its columns and lines (A,B,C … and 1,2,3 …) and protect them into a plexiglas frame.
This frame is then screwed on the exact place represented on the image it holds.
Taking the center of the horizontal and vertical middle lines as values for its positionning (oriented also according to the north on plan), the frame is then sealed on the ground in a way to overlap the location displayed on the map.
Sometimes the frame has to  be set in the middle of a field, sometimes in the street or even on a roof top of a building.
At that point, the represented and  the representation are then impossible to differentiate, the map and the territory are joined up to fuse together.

White shoes, 2004. Video loop 1 min 43.

Experimental video loop of 1 min 43 sec. showing the legs of a character going down stairs. The all 9 sequences show the same action in the same kind of environment, always outdoor, and obviously on the same day, (same light and rainy weather). This accumulation is an attempt of a census of stairs in public places in the small city of Gardanne (France),  same but different, other but similar. This repetition is emphasized by the video loop, indeed, once the character is down the stairs a new one comes in frame to descend the stairs again as if there was three of them.

Discipline, 2012. Digital print on photopaper, 100×100 cm.

Accumulation of 124 digital pictures showing a dog relieving itself in the «espace chiens» (dog space) specially dedicated to that necessity.
Those pictures have been taken twice a week during a period of approximately one year. Following the same process : by daylight, always from the same angle of view and while the dog is defecating.
Beyond the obvious triviality of the pictures, this humourous time-lapse asks questions around several themes : wildness & domestication (in extension nature and culture), freedom and duties, time and space.
Tracks of a repetitive routine, despite changings of the environment (growing grass and plants and variety of parked cars) this collection of quite «particular» moments illustrate the (relative) freedom of movement that the subject has in a space with strictly set up frame. This subject becomes at that very moment object of pressure between natural needs and the dictated behaviours according to its master’s awaits .
Never a being is such vulnerable and wary than at these precise times. Same action on the same location, only the dog’s instincts are determinating the exact place where it is going to do its business.

Les Épreuves, 2010. Digital print on photopaper, twice 50×70 cm.

72 black and white communicant pictures arranged into 2 series of 36 pics (one for the boys one for the girls). Those original photographic argentic films (87×117 mm) with its test prints were found abandonned in a basement in 2010.
This accumulation of portrait pictures taken from the lost archives of the professionnal photographer of a british village in the mid 60’s is a gallery composed of 36 boys and 36 girls, shown side by side.
Original test prints in their original condition, they still have the stamp «épreuves» on them (stamped on the first print of the pictures which have to be approved by the customer before definitive printing).
In french as in english, this word carries several meanings : test, proof or even trial, the semantic field of the image crosses then the one of the text, communicants making their proof.

XX-XY, 2002. installation, 220×356 cm.

Life size format black and white pictures printed on paper and  pasted on a wall, genitals and faces are pasted on light removable woodboards.
In this self staging work, the question of gender and sexual identity is asked.
The pictures represent the same subject with different gender attributes (long hairs, short hairs, shaved legs or not, breast, make up, genitals).
The spectator can interact with the mobile parts of the installation.
The two different types of faces and genitals can be exchanged and combined to the two different kind of body by the participating spectator.
The combination possibilities of those three items (Face/Body/Genitals) are 8, but, as the installations offers only six possibilities, a missing eventuality of order is always induced.
The title is a reference to the only chromosomic difference between men and women.

Hiding show, 2001. 10 pictures slideshow loop.

Serie of slideshow showing alternatively and from the same angle of view, a man and a woman, wearing «useless» or «disabled» clothes.
Frames are cut in the trousers, pull-over and shirts so that its primary use is counteracted.
Experiment around the question of decency and prudishness, the faces of the characters are visible only when their genitals are hidden and conversely. The slideshow pictures have been damaged by moisture and bad storage conditions.

Dear, 2013. mixed media, 55x45x30 cm.

Hunting trophy of a dear in polystyrene covered with newspaper cuts, the lines and the columns they form are following the natural lines of the muscle fibers. The newspapers are old viet-kong propanga archives.

Sofa trio, 2005. Video 30 sec.

Short experimental analog video loop showing the same character interacting with himself, or his «doppelgänger». Verbal communication through the one who recieves a phone call (on left) and other  communication vectors between the two others (the one in the middle offers to smoke to the third one on right who refuses, all that without any word, just by attitudes and gestures). Attempt to make coexist and induce dialog between several specimen of the same original person.

LITTLE PEOPLE (la france d’en bas), 2005.

 « Urbanity »  doesn’t mean the same for a downtown citizen as for an inhabitant of the suburbs, latter ones are often victims of stereotypes and prejudices (sometimes racial often social). Inhabitants of those last areas have been long at the cutting edge of new forms of expression (dance, music, graphics or even literature). The proposition here, is to convert the building itself into a medium of expression, turning those concrete blocks into literaly spokes*wo*men of its residents.

The operation principle relies on the Google Earth technology and an electoral democratic process.
Mighty tool to zoom on populated areas, the Google Earth photo databank is updated variously in accordance to the density of population, to special interesting spots and for military and security reasons to the level of strategic importance of the pointed sites.
The pictures are updated in a range of 2weeks (for really touristic areas) to 5 years, then, for the average locations,  we can guess that the time gap to see changes on a chosen point of the map lies around 2 or 3 years.

The principle of this participative, in situ project is to write the words that best summarise the life in these blocks on the roofs of the buildings.

A first brochure explaining the project is preliminary given to the households, in a second phase, a cultural mediation team can be sent to explain again the disposal and try to convince the inhabitants to participate to the project.
It’s asked of every household to formulate a word that incarnates their life in the heart of this environment. For the families, one word pro person will be accepted.

Then come the time to vote in a dedicated letterbox installed in the entrance of the buildings, a first ballot registers the list of the words given by the participants, in a second ballot,  a short list of words (the ones which were the most often expressed) is given to the voters in order to choose which word will finally be written on the roof.

Once this vote is done

, the word summerizing the life of the citizen living there (or their feeling) and chosen by the majority of the local households is written with white paint (or black if the roof is in a light color) with a contrasted outline in order to make it clearly readable at high altitude.

Joining the concept of citizenship in its development, this installation interoperates the concepts of time and space.
It makes visible for the connected people on internet what the residents choosed to express to the entire world and stays completely muted to the other people (even the close neighbours can ignore it !), the message is only readable from a distant place.
The time lapse needed to show the world this collective message will ask the questions
«What changed between those years ?»,
«Does the people still experience the same feelings ?».
When the message appears visible on google earth after that more or less long period, a new vote can eventually be planned to update it.