La part des choses, episode 1 (Get the balance right)

Benjamin Laurent Aman, Cristian Andersen, Hervé Bréhier, Marc Geneix, Carole Manaranche, Sébastien Maloberti, Christoph Meier, Navid Nuur, Ariel Schlesinger

13 February — 20 March 2010

No Smoke Without Fire

“Prepare yourself for the fall, you’re gonna fall. It’s almost predictable (Almost).”

Depeche Mode, Get the Balance Right, 1983

Through its use of recycled materials, if Get The Balance Right embraces the unreservedly contemporary question of planetary eco-environmental imbalance, it gets the balance right between a collective construction nourished by a material fourth dimension (out of which infinite narrative possibilities arise) and the singularity of each work. In the place where the elective affinities of a collective exhibition are created, “interiorities, by nature invisible”1 develop.

Experts in joyful poaching and the rehabilitation of materials, Carol Manaranche recreates a story of ambivalence between sculpture and design, space and painting; Marc Geneix evokes all the dark heart of Le Monde; Sébastien Maloberti contaminates abstraction; Benjamin Laurent Aman materialises sound; Hervé Bréhier flirts with the symbolic; Navid Nuur highlights his processes; Ariel Schlesinger plays with fire; Christoph Meier projects a nostalgic minimalism; Cristian Andersen, finds the faulty twilight between two worlds with Get the Balance Right (2008), which opens the exhibition. Discovering the right balance between two worlds, past and future, reality and narrative, chaos and void; it lies in the interstice of things, towards its mysterious and otherworldly parts.

The thought detours at work pile up: like secrets proffered to give a form to ideas, a second life to objects, an experimental arrangement of their functionality. Provisional and disaffected, the works brought together for Get The Balance Right #1 at Galarie RDV in Nantes, function as theorems or operating concepts; investigations of reality, lo-tech hypothesis and mechanisms, displacement activations shifting objects from one universe to another, orbital implementations of the original extensions, hybrid instruments, disruptive connections.

By rethinking the use value of an urbanity that has been neglected, the exhibition infiltrates by rehabilitating the world’s abandoned zones, revealing a modest mythology of decay. It is a contemporary ‘altermodern’ vision of the heterotopia, created through doubt and irresolution, austerity and fragility. The joint development of the theoretical and experimental reinvents ways to approach popular culture, when the diffuse quotidian becomes upset due to transformations carried out on objects.

There, a violet table on rollers extrapolates artificial appendices and ‘bulky waste’ from itself (Carole Manaranche, Untitled, 2008). Here, a page from Le Monde rubbed out, transparently showing the fragility of its other side (Marc Geneix, Attempt at erasing of a page of Le Monde, 2010).

High on the wall is vinyl that has been sanded down, coated with graphite and decorated with a circular motif. The work of Benjamin Laurent Aman, Quasar (2009) reveals a new materiality in the object, whose title invites a subliminal galactic narrative. An imposing minimalist plinth supports a simple ashtray, and in the midst of the tobacco dregs a tiny red cinder is hardly visible. It sparkles like an eternal ember, as if by magic, goddess of small nothings (Ariel Schlesinger, Forever Young, 2004).

These micro-narratives supplement the supposed emptiness and obsolescence of the objects with soul, as in Christoph Meier’s installation Setting 14 (2008). Composed of projectors with diverse origins, all generations merged, it produces an abstract luminous painting. Noisy lo-tech is permitted to confront vivid monochrome color. Process and device are also at work in Sébastien Maloberti’s proposal The Model For Studio Furniture (2010). Presented in the form of a shelf, set at a fixed height, it synthesizes fragments of materials, in the manner of an archetype and a mise en abyme of the artist’s studio and mental space. Here the symbolic plastic cup whose liquid contents tilt melancholically, would not be a stranger to an impertinent game with the codes of the abstraction.

Hervé Bréhier’s piece Untitled (2008), built in closed circuit, reproduces an absurd and poetic plumbing mechanism. A wad of tissue absurdly seals a water leak, allowing a permanent drip to escape. This confinement in a mechanical system evokes Fischli and Weiss’ Der Laufe der Dinge, and the work, by equally convening the substandardness and poverty of the materials, presents a figure of anxiety and discomfort at the precariousness of the world. An ordinary bottle of water is personified in Navid Nuur’s Let us meet inside you (2005-2009) through the assignment of intimate objects: namely a page from the artist’s notebook and a belt buckle. Nuur invites the spectator to drink what could be called “blood of the artist”, with the underlying idea to give substance to the body, creating a kind of new ‘intermodular’ territory (in the terminology of the artist).

“I don’t want only the oscillation, but the density of an idea.” – Robert Musil2

Under the cover of a rudimentary vocabulary, the works tinker, made remarkable through this ill-fitting and undefined minimalism, a fictional traffic diverted between fragments of everyday life. Far from representation, the exhibition strives to decipher the indecipherable, the artist is a laboratory assistant, customizer of precarious realities, an ironic archaeologist of the disaster of our super-materialistic society.

As if composed of an architecture of inframince, where true spirits and hybrid things coincide, the artists and their works interact by installing a future narrative of a segmented anti-formal post-world. An imperceptible collective engineering explores the borderline states of the material object, “of the inframince… or how to build intensities by subtraction.”3

The very emergence of the narrative which Get The Balance Right installs with these “objects of the few” indicates “that which disappears does not make a sign towards nothingness, but towards a density of the presence”4. Dense presences: the concrete presence which manifests itself in the world through recycled materials, and the immaterial presence of the exhibition narrative which invents itself, or the presence which is proclaimed by the artistic gesture in the face of consumerism.

Mai Tran

1 Michel Henry, L’Essence de la manifestation, Paris, PUF, coll. Epiméthée, 1963, re-ed. 1990.

2 Robert Musil, L’Homme sans qualités, Paris, Le Seuil, 1956.

3 Thierry Davila, De l’inframince. Brève histoire de l’imperceptible de Marcel Duchamp à nos jours, Paris, éditions du Regard, 2010.

4 Thierry Davila, radio program Du Jour au lendemain, France Culture, 29th November 2010