The Working Forest (La Forêt Usagère)a proposition by Aurélien Mole
with : Åbäke, Jesus Alberto Benitez, Roxane Borujerdi, Nicolas Chardon, Aurélien Froment, Hippolyte Hentgen, Charlie Jeffery, Raphaël Julliard, Pierre Leguillon, Christophe Lemaitre, Colombe Marcasiano, Niels Trannois, Clément Rodzielski, Izet Sheshivari, Olivier Soulerin, Syndicat, Eva Taulois, Julien Tiberi, Cyril Verde.
Where does this exhibition title come from ?
The exhibition Working Forest is titled after a discussion with Dominique Blais about the project of Patrick Bernier and Olive Martin whose subject matter revolves around a forest in the southwest region of France, shared acres belonging to several towns.
Nothing allegoric about this title then ?
Yes, indeed the display will surely be very foresty ! (Laughs)
Why such an exhibition today ?
The year I made a serious decision to state clear my artistic practice, I sought to construct its conditions of possibility. In the same way, I started studying art history before going to a Beaux-Arts (fine arts) school and finishing the degree with training for professional curatorship. In any case, I tried to determine an order in which to do things. If projects are well organised, we could imagine that such sequence is carried out following this smooth logic that has a regressive beauty of domino-like path, where one only has to push the first one once everything else is put in place. The advantage of the logic is its obstinacy.
Is your practice based on this kind of logic ?
The sort of economy I put in place is based largely on the photography of views of exhibitions. Therefore I buy myself a certain kind of independence as I photograph works of other artists. Photographing of exhibitions is not something terribly technical but very demanding in terms of interpretation. If the quality of studio photographer relies on reading materials, fashion photographer on reading attitudes, architecture photographer on translating volumes, reporter on choosing a side, photographer of exhibitions should be able to read artworks and an endless array of discourse that could be articulated. We might here add that reading is a way to make things pass through you. Thus, the multitude of practices I take pictures of are passing through me. If I rely on the comfortable convention of a documentary’s neutrality, nothing will be reflected from these passages in the photos taken for my clients. But this apparent absence of affect is merely a regulated surface that allows for an economy to exist : I obviously do not photograph works of art in the same way as when I’m dealing with canned soup !
So works that you photograph have an influence on you.
This practice of exhibition views, which puts me in touch with different artworks, but takes up part of my time, led me to consider fairly early in my time ‘collaboration’ as a method of production that suits my own situation. This allowed me to know better the artists I was interested in, while working together for a collective project. In such series as Les Objets Incomplets (The Incomplete Things) or les Dessins Bifaces (The Double Face Drawings), rules of the game acts a bit like the basis of collaboration. Again, it is a matter of setting up a frame to organise all productions, as in the exhibition photography. It could be a collected object for its flaws or a collage made from carbon papers. These are objects with a lot of potential, “open artworks” hosting other practices, logics, personalities. Series are also means of knowledge. In the best case, they reveal thoughts inherent in the works of the artists I am interested in. Another advantage is that I earn so much time. The work is still in progress even when I don’t have the time to work on it.
What are the consequences of such approach ?
I said earlier that this economy brings my own independence, which would be in vain if there were not any consequences : firstly being independent in terms of production. Nowadays, the means the artists are offered to actualize ideas are multiple. From residency to association with gallery, from research grant to the exhibition in a wealthy foundation, each possibility requires at the same time its counterpart. Residencies are sometimes left only with space-time without resources, or worse : traps transforming the artist into a entertainer to make profitable its own presence supported by public funds. One remarkable exception of Artistes en Résidence (Artists in Residence), a program by Martial Déflacieux, in Clermont-Ferrand is one of the most beautiful project I was given to try out. Associating itself with a gallery submits the work to market logic. Good galleries will create a buffer zone between the artist and the market, bad ones will encourage the artist to get stuck in the mud of fashion. It is more profitable to recognize than seeking to know. The research grant is a good opportunity but the one who give such grant has to accept the fact the investment could indeed lead to nothing.
Those comments are rather general, but what does this independence concerning you precisely mean ?
The other form of independence is related to not making a living out of your art. I instinctively think it’s a good thing to separate an artistic practice from the inevitable matters of subsistence. At least one should not resolve the issues of the other. I could further argue about this point but I will pass this time.
Other things to add ?
Yes : In this working forest, there might be a lake, also entitled to be used, where one could spend time.
Aurélien Mole translated in English by Jimin Son