MAC/VAL

MAC/VAL is opened every day of the week, except on mondays:
tuesday to friday, 10 h to 18 h
week-ends and holidays, 12 h to 19 h.

Closed on january 1st, may 1st and december 25th.

phone: 01 43 91 64 20
fax: 01 79 86 16 57

Access map

Place de la Libération
94400 Vitry-sur-Seine

  004/023  

Claire Fontaine

Notice

Claire Fontaine is both the name of a
famous brand of school exercise book and
a tribute to Marcel Duchamp’s Fontaine
[Fountain] (1917). She is also a ‘readymade
artist’, the way the collective made
up of Fulvia Carnevale and James Thornhill
defines itself, which plays with issues
of style and signature. Claire Fontaine
‘pushes to the midst of the ruins of the
auteur function, by experimenting with
collective production protocols,
appropriations and hijackings, and the
introduction of different arrangements for
the division of intellectual property
and private property’.1 In the face of
the disappearance of forms of unusualness,
and with commercial utopia, Claire Fontaine
puts herself in a posture of oddness,
backing away from the question of style to
merge with the industrial forms and methods
of production which the American Conceptual
and Minimalist artists of the 1960s and
1970s had already used.

The installation Please come back (K. Font)
is an industrial sculpture. It takes the
form of a monumental lit sign using the K
font (created by the artist) and held in
place by scaffolding, a cheap assembly
system often used for signs. The work plays
ambivalently with visitors, inviting them
to draw near to trigger the lighting
mechanism, but also to move away, in order
to protect themselves from the aggressive
radiant light from the neon lights. Please
come back sounds like a slogan. But who’s
talking? Who’s talking to us? ‘The sign
reacts to the movements of bodies in space
and its meaning can be interpreted in
differing ways, from a parody of the
message addressed to the consumer leaving
the shop, to the melancholy feeling of
irreparable loss of a moment of grace or
a loved one.’2 In 2008, in a light
installation of the same kind, the artist
declared Please God make tomorrow better,
halfway between entreaty and authoritarian
request. But ‘there are passwords beneath
slogans’.3

Behind this pseudonym with its overtones
of truancy, Claire Fontaine has been
investigating the links between culture
and consumerism since 2004, along with
the universalisation of language for
ideological purposes. The size of the
installation makes the message (‘please,
come back’) crushing, not to say scary,
unlike the invitation it is extending.
Claire Fontaine thus overexposes a paradox
well-known to advertising people for its
strong manipulative potential: the formula
between sentimental invitation and
authoritarian injunction.

S.A.

1. See the artist’s website,
http://www.clairefontaine.ws/index.html.

2. Idem.

3. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Mille
plateaux, Paris, Éditions de Minuit, 1980.