Pieces of Evidence

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Installation view © Courtesy of the artist & carlier | gebauer
Installation View © Courtesy of the artist & carlier | gebauer
Installation view © Courtesy of the artist & carlier | gebauer
Pieces of Evidence

Markgrafenstraße 67
D-10969 Berlin
April 27th, 2013 - June 1st, 2013
Opening: April 27th, 2013 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

+49 (0)
Tue-Sat 11-6


The exhibition title Pieces of Evidence is not only that of Michel François
solo show at carlier | gebauer, but likewise aptly describes his artistic
outlook and method. At first sight he seems to concentrate on sculptures, but
these involve not only the objects proper but also the ‘objects’ intrinsic
Starting from photographs that he took in the basement of the Palace of Justice
in Brussels, François concerns himself with each object as a ‘piece of
evidence’, a case in point. The corrupt objects that he found there in the
evidence room, such as a truncheon or a baseball bat, were under wraps,
numbered, labeled and in part identified. Their relationship to the court
building, which initially they characterize as evidence of a deed, also
involves the possibility of considering them in a neutral context independent
of the Palace of Justice – as trivial, harmless items. From the perspective of
art, the sculpture bears fundamental witness to its historical material: in
François’ work it can be read as the trace of what happens inside and outside
the studio. They need to be seen as a response or echo to his photographs in
the basement under the court, which in François’ work are transferred from one
semantic field into the other. The transfer takes place first in the studio and
does not entail a collection of objects but an experience of the authority they
exude – for example a truncheon that serves as evidence of a crime.
In the exhibition space, as in the literature of writers such as Francis
Ponges, the Pieces of Evidence take on a life of their own. They become
experimental terrain that function like a laboratory. In the exhibition proper,
François offers viewers an insight into his working approach, albeit in a
curated form. The exhibition space becomes a field of action. This is reflected
in a cube of sand that leaves traces in the space, or in a block of ice
(positioned besides a block of asphalt) that melts before the viewer’s eyes and
can thus be experienced not just as a trace, but as a live phenomenon.
Michel François’ troves consist of materials that he transforms and are in a
process of permanent recycling. In this sense, no work is ever completely
concluded. Sculptures like Big Shelf, Bed made of Rag or Plaster Cube all
involve a concern with time, not to mention delayed, inactive action. The
presence of outsized objects and the game played with their materials also not
only explore ‘who creates sculpture’ but also ‘what sculpture creates’. In
Pieces of Evidence, François’ works stage the exhibition space as a field of
experimentation and function as sculptural gestures that offer takes on chaos
and order, dispersion and reconstruction. In an epilog on Michel François’
order of things, Guillaume Désanges described this as follows:
“In a seemingly marked-out, hierarchical world which is far more chaotic and
uncontrolled than it appears, Michel François’s essentially sculptural work,
which on the contrary is obviously chaotic and subtly framed, is a model of
sensual and ideological reconfiguration of the immediate. His delight in forms
and games of representation derives from his wonderment at the world’s
materials, nature, situations or ideas. Despite the sometimes sombre rawness of
some references, the artist ultimately sets out to reconcile what are sometimes
distant and contradictory fields in the world of art. Highly formal sculpture
underpinned by a set of complex theoretical and ideological strata, laying
claim to a liberal art, while accepting the slavish share of work. The
ideological issues of modernity (the everyday as material, art as a cosa
mentale, universality of forms, abstraction, seriality), without ignoring the
great issues of classical art (perspective, nature, manual work, metaphor,
illusion, trompe-l’oeil). A focus on the world and on the intimate sphere,
neutralised by elegant detachment from forms. Representative clarity and
simplicity, contrasted with indeterminate perception. In short, acceptance of
physical and moral responsibility for the fundamental demands of sculpture,
without sacrificing freedom, risk and uncertainty.”*
Michel François lives and works in Brussels. His works are currently on display
in the Des Gestes de la Pensée exhibition curated by Guillaume Désanges at La
Verrière Hermès in Brussels. In 2012, his art was last on show in Crac de Sète,
in Sète, France. Among countless international exhibitions, he was responsible
for such projects as the Belgian Pavilion at the 48th Venice Biennale (1999) and
took part in Documenta 9 in Kassel (1992).