A Conversation with France Languérand – Part 3

by Vichinie Suos  

À rebours : Metropolis (2005) by France Languérand; variable dimensions


VS :  Moving on, work on documentation brings up this idea of belief in authority and more generally the creation of archives and their “modes of instrumentalization.” You make an effort to never work with the meaning of documents. Your protocol draws on a certain documentation, whose visibility has been scorched, that you use to re-enter like an echo of their use.

FL : If conceptual art puts the object on display, in my case, it’s a putting-on-display of the artistic object. I don’t deconstruct, I reactivate. Conceptual artists are interesting in the  dematerialization of art, but they only produce material objects: flyers, magnets, files. These days,  dematerialization happens digitally which is only data and electrical charges. What interests me in not  dematerialization but failure, the impossibility of materialization.

What’s more, the conceptual artists are interested in the industry of producing standard forms. In my case, it’s no longer industry as the whole of human activity turned towards the mass production of goods, but only one type of “industry” : the cultural industry, in Adorno’s meaning of the Kulturindustrie. That is, the vision and instrumentalization of popular culture and/or of cultural heritage.

VS : Art is a “chaosmos,” as Joyce says, a composed chaos. You carry out your work through chaotic operations, France, because your practice is conceptual, could we define it as “ chaoïde?”

FL : Yes, I quite like that idea that thought does not constitute itself except in that relationship where it risks falling into darkness, but at that moment we leave the precepts and affects   \in which Deleuze and Gattari deck out art. Following their logic, it would more philosophical matter than artistic matter, would it?

VS : you mentioned the work of  Jean Yves Jouannais, “ artistes sans œuvres,” that reminds me of the phenomenon of Bartleby.

FL : Bartleby preferred not… the photographs of 16777216 colors are, with a few exception (10 out of  80467) are immaterial, to the degree that they only exist digitaly. They were generated to  potentially never exist, and that’s more or less what is applicable to all my work. To come back to the question of materialization of the work, in my case, there’s always a kind of incapability to materialize the work, or at least with completeness and/or with integrity. Materialization is not an end in itself, it’s a possible, a potential. The work of conceptual artists is not potential at the same level. The ones that have been realized, there isn’t that impossibility of display.

Multiple, particulars unique:  A practice of “playing-games” with the institutions and codes of intellectual property

VS : Because you’re interested in the margin of error, what do you do with your editions?

FL : All  pieces are on reproducible supports, but are all unique exemplars. For example, there is only one printing of each photograph. That’s all, not even an artist’s printing (an artist’s printing concretely remains one more printing.) There are only editions which are of course copies. But, those signed and numbered editions are free in the exhibition space.  Thus the viewer is free to take them, and that is where the grain of sand can get in, an error.

Something free has, by definition, no commercial value. But if the edition is numbered and signed, that gives it a potential commercial value because it is limited and authenticated. Sometimes, editions aren’t taken by the viewer who doesn’t dare because they are numbered and signed, and so are considered as a displayed piece. In other cases, they are taken by the viewer but a good part are destroyed because the spectator only sees a piece of paper, or doesn’t take care of it because it is free.

As such, the initial number of copies is reduced and so possibly that will increase the commercial value if the edition had one. What’s more, due to the fact that they are free, they haven’t been deposited at the National Library of France. In France, when a paper edition is made, there is a legal obligation to donate one to the National Library. Legally, they act as flyers even though they are numbered and signed. At the end, I give a gift to the viewer but not to the institution who wanted to legally oblige me to.


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