Julien Prévieux would certainly like the Brautigan Library, described by Vila-Matas in his Bartleby & Co. This atypical library offers unpublished manuscripts, and nothing else—a phantom literature, in a word, all carefully and respectfully displayed. This enhancement of things rejected and abandoned is also expressed by the artist through a piece such as La Totalité des propositions vraies (avant), made up of books saved from being pulped, conveying obsolete conceptions and ideas that have had their time. He thus questions knowledge and the ways it is organized, and the relativity of its validity and its future development.
For his new solo show at the Galerie Jousse Entreprise, Julien Prévieux is extending this line of thinking with Forget the Money, an installation made on the basis of the bookshelves in the New York apartment of the (in)famous American businessman Bernard Madoff, responsible for the swindle of the century, estimated at $65 billion, which came to light in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008. Prévieux presents us with a hundred or so books, mainly thrillers and bestsellers, which once belonged to Madoff, and were bought after his belongings were seized by the FBI. These books with their premonitory titles (End in Tears, No Second Chance, The World is Made of Glass, The Investigation, White Shark, K is for Killer,…) seem to work like relics, borrowings from an ambiguous fetishism, based, obviously enough, less on their quality than on the fate of their owner. A little snippet of history erected as an absurd monument, which broaches the scandal from the wings, its lesser details which you cannot help trying to decipher, despite Madoff’s lack of visible interest in literature, harbingers of the drama. Julien Prévieux has fun with this phenomenon by taking from a broad selection of the books any sentences which include the word “money”, the real key to the plot, which gives rise to a sound piece and to photographs reproducing the list of these excerpts of text. This redundant listing creates a rhythm which we also find in the video What Shall We Do Next? in which there appears a set of gestures patented by companies over the past few years, in anticipation of our future practices which, thus sequenced and decontextualized, form a strange choreography.
The gesture is also what is involved in the workshop run by the artist in the form of a studio for drawing, with four members of the police crime division in the 14th arrondissement in Paris. This entails handmaking diagrams supposed to help the police to swiftly visualize areas where they may have to take action. These policemen appropriate one of their work tools, based on a method more akin to a hobby, lending a quality and a value to an object of quantification through the painstaking work and the time required. The purposes of productivity and the answer to a policy of quotas which underpins this kind of arrangement are also doomed to failure. This shift between remunerated work and creative leisure can sometimes turn out to be more ambiguous and perverse, as is shown by the video Anomalies construites, consisting of a slow tracking shot on the screens of a computer room. In voice-over, one of the two people using Google SketchUp free modelling software, which, in particular, helps to make 3D monuments in Google Earth, illustrates an enthusiast’s approach deriving satisfaction from the recognition of his talent by the computer giant, while the other, more critical, reveals a form of disguised work: “I think, this time, we were really had. Everything was so well done, that’s it, so well done, that we didn’t even know any more that we were working when we were working.”
With this show, Julien Prévieux describes, in roundabout ways, the mechanisms and diversions of modern capitalism.