Dimmed electric light bulbs,
220 × 550 cm,
Inv. 2006.1049 (2)/Acquired with the aid of the FRAM Île-de-France
Jean-Luc Vilmouth hallmarks the art scene
with his special presence, highlighting
the reflexes and dysfunction of the world,
proposing new ways of living together,
new types of relationship. In the early
1980s, he linked up with the artists
involved with new British sculpture
and, like them, appropriated the world
of objects, which became his formal
vocabulary. He called himself ‘the friend
of objects’, their ‘augmenter’, and he
gave them a real power. Using them as
intermediaries, but remaining at a remove
from the everyday, he reveals their
quintessence, creating unexpected and
intriguing situations in the public place,
the better to question and challenge it.
Nature is also one of the subjects of his
work: a nature that is rendered artificial
and comes into conflict with the human race.
The distance from the world maintained by
Jean-Luc Vilmouth is nevertheless something
that is the result of great attentiveness.
He is forever criss-crossing the planet,
either on his own initiative or in response
to invitations, nurturing his critical
vision of it as he does so.
White Building came out of trips to Cambodia in 2005. Invited to Phnom Penh, Jean-Luc Vilmouth was struck by the existence of a building constructed in the 1960s by an assistant of Le Corbusier, the Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann, based on the utopian model of the Cité Radieuse, the functionalist European project that he took into a shantytown. The inhabitants set up home in this unfinished building, and transformed it. Life held triumphed in it, as did local customs.
This ensemble, which was on view in the museum’s second show devoted to the issue of being present in the world (2007–2008), consists of three pieces, with only one, The Name, being exhibited today, serving as a souvenir of the previous exhibition and of the work in its entirety. White Building bears witness to an architectural and social utopia abandoned in the face of political changes and to the needs of everyday life; today, only its ruins remain.
It is from this distortion between project and reality that the beauty of this piece emerges. It is an installation of objects and drawings, together with this name in light, the wires on the wall calling to mind a precarious electrical installation, but also the ramification of projects, and life in the making.
Today, the light sign resurrects the memory of the work and that of the utopias that continue to illuminate life. Often disappointed, and often forgotten about, they remain a beacon for the future.