‘Human Autonome: Déroutes’

Exhibition from 26 April to 22 September 2024

Opening on Thursday 25 April

An exhibition by Marianne Derrien, Sarah Ihler-Meyer and Salim Santa Lucia.

With works by A.K. Burns, Alain Bublex, Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck & Media Farzin, Alexandra Bircken, Andrea Zittel, Anita Molinero, Antoine Nessi, Atelier Van Lieshout, Bill Owens, Blair Thurman, BP, Cady Noland, Delphine Reist, Diego Bianchi, Ed Ruscha, François Dufeil, Frieda Toranzo Jaeger, Hans Haacke, Hugo Vessiller-Fonfreide, Julie Hascoët, Kristina Solomoukha, Laurent Faulon, Lothar Baumgarten, Lucie Stahl, Malala Andrialavidrazana, Marcel Devillers, Mark Leckey, Mark Lombardi, Martha Rosler, Mathis Altmann, Matthew Angelo Harrisson, Michael Sailstorfer, Mohamed Bourouissa, Monira Al Qadiri, O. Winston Link, Peter Buggenhout, Piero Gilardi, Randa Maroufi, Sara Sadik, Serge Lhermitte, Sophie Ristelhueber, Stéphanie Cherpin, Suzanne Husky, Tania Mouraud, Taryn Simon, Thomas Bayrle, Thomas Teurlai, Tobias Zielony, Willy Ronis.

Exploratory and forward-looking, the programme of temporary exhibitions continues to focus on the processes by which contemporary identities and bodies are constructed, in an attempt to reflect on reality and, ultimately, to propose new scenarios and new ways of inhabiting the world. It is in this context that MAC VAL is hosting the fourth episode of the ‘Humain Autonome’ touring project, curated by Marianne Derrien, Sarah Ihler-Meyer and Salim Santa Lucia.
Car, crate, sleeper, tank, jalopy, banger, wheels – the automobile is a paradoxical object. While some adore it, others condemn it. It is, at the very least, an ambiguous symbol, the cause and symptom of many of the crises we are going through (economic, societal, climatic, philosophical). Facilitating the movement of bodies and goods, exploration but also conquest, an instrument both of freedom and control, its use has shaped landscapes, bodies and minds. As the focus of many economic issues, the car is a non-place, half-private and half-public, a fantasy machine and an object of fetishism, sometimes personified. Its production lines, its operating systems, its links with fossil fuels, its myths and its unconscious are all analysed, deconstructed, reassessed and turned upside down by the artists in the exhibition. However, the point is not outright rejection. On the contrary, it’s about raising awareness and pointing out some of the aporias of our contemporary world.
The exhibition brings together some fifty artists from different generations, and is accompanied by a publication tracing the project in its entirety.

Since 2020, the ‘Humain Autonome’ cycle of exhibitions has given rise to several events combining exhibitions, screenings, workshops and performances at the Frac Normandie in Caen (‘À 2000 tours minutes’ and ‘Joyridin’’) at La Condition Publique in Roubaix (‘Fossiles mécaniques’) as part of the Art et Industrie Triennale in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou and the CNAP-Centre National des Arts Plastiques, and at the Ateliers Le Wonder (‘Prélude’) in Clichy (92) for La Nuit Blanche.
Today, then, ‘Déroutes’ at MAC VAL is the fourth chapter of the ‘Humain Autonome’ project.

General Curator Nicolas Surlapierre
Curated by Marianne Derrien, Sarah Ihler-Meyer and Salim Santa Lucia
Associate curator Frank Lamy

In conjunction with this exhibition, ‘Humain Autonome : Accrochage’ presents a selection of works from the MAC VAL collection by Carole Benzaken, Élisabeth Ballet, Éric Dubuc, Éric Hattan, ERRÓ, Étienne Bossut, Jean Dewasne, Michel de Broin, NØNE FUTBOL CLUB, Peter Klasen, Peter Stämpfli, Pierre Ardouvin, Pierre Buraglio, Raymond Hains and Véronique Boudier.

Text from the curators of the exhibition

Marianne Derrien, Sarah Ihler-Meyer and Salim Santa Lucia

An autonomous subject, freed from its physical limits, driven by inexorable progress, becoming master and possessor of nature: this is the myth of which the car is the symbol. In other words, an epic, individualistic and ‘Petromasculinist”’ (according to Cara New Dagget) narrative – one that supports the modes of production, relationships of domination and exploitation that are at the root of the destruction of our ecosystems.

This the modern heritage addressed by ‘Humain Autonome: Déroutes,’ an exhibition which juxtaposes the imaginaries and the realities of the civilisation of the car. The car is an object of fetishism, and here it is reinscribed in the systems of energy, the organisation of work, geopolitical issues, the eroticism and the counter-cultures that it implies – those of ‘fossil capital’, according to Andreas Malm, which is constantly renewing itself.

The artists in this exhibition, from different generations and from both the French and international scenes, are concerned with a different conception of human autonomy: understood not as independence from any exteriority, but as the capacity to reflect on our own determinations and interdependencies. An autonomy situated in relation to a social and symbolic order that needs to be deconstructed.

Opening the way to other horizons, other points of escape, their works become tactics of bifurcation and deviation in the effort to overturn and redefine dominant economic logics and value systems: the exploitation of bodies and land, overproduction, extractivism, colonial conquests, speed, power, progress, etc.

Made up of tens of thousands of parts, a car is at once a world in itself, an everyday object and a 20th-century icon of technical progress. While the car owes its development to an initial promise - that of being able to travel faster and further, offering unprecedented individual autonomy - the aim here is to look at the emancipations and enslavements produced by the culture of the motor.

Setting out alternative narratives, the exhibition generates open and sometimes paradoxical proposals.


Marianne Derrien
Marianne Derrien is an independent curator, art critic and teacher, and a member of C-E-A and AICA France. After working as a project manager for exhibitions at the Académie de France in Rome - Villa Medici, she now works as a guest curator with museums and independent venues in France and abroad. Since 2020, she has been in curatorial residence at Wonder, an artist-run space in the Paris region. In 2023, she co-founded the curatorial platform FluidLabor, an independent production structure.

Sarah Ihler-Meyer
Sarah Ihler-Meyer is an art critic (France Culture), independent curator (Mudam Luxembourg, Ateliers Médicis, Southbank Center, etc.) and lecturer in art theory at the University of Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis. A member of C-E-A and AICA France, she is a regular contributor to specialist journals and collective works. Her curatorial work focuses on the legacy of Western modernity in contemporary art.

Salim Santa Lucia
Salim Santa Lucia is a photographer and artist. After an initial training as an industrial designer, he went on to work in a variety of fields related to the automotive industry, transport and innovation. His career has included stints as an industrial designer, a driver, a traffic controller and a press writer, all in parallel with his photography.
Documenting today’s art and artists, he produces studio reports and portraits, as well as views of exhibitions and performances.
A collaborator with Le Wonder collective, since 2018 he has been building up a photographic archive that bears witness to the work and lives of the collective’s artists in a fast-changing Greater Paris.

French site

Prospective et tournée vers l’avenir, la programmation des expositions temporaires se poursuit autour des processus de constructions des identités, des corps contemporains, tente de réfléchir le réel et, à terme, proposer de nouveaux scénarios, de nouvelles manières d’habiter le monde.