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

  008/023  

Gilles Barbier

Notice

Sculptures, photographs, large drawings,
and installations – Gilles Barbier’s work
is multiple and plentiful. A foe of logic
and definitive truths, the artist comes up
with alternative paths for reflection,
adopting as his starting point the
disruption of his own decision-making
process in his work. He thus creates
multiple scenarios in order to invent other
possibilities, other worlds, and other
attitudes.

L’Ivrogne shows us an improbable scene,
but one that is astonishingly realistic:
a man kneeling, as if crushed by the
monumental spiral that seems to emerge from
his skull. It is a whirlwind that mixes
everything up – the vulgar, the political
and the childlike – and that features the
artist’s favourite motifs: gruyere cheese,
holes, language tapes, comic strip speech
bubbles, body parts, earthworms (a portrait
of contemporary man as consumer), and
several hats, like so many personalities
for one and the same individual.
Since 1993 Gilles Barbier, displaying a
fondness for copies and miniatures, has
been casting wax effigies of himself, which
he uses in his scripts. Idiocy, perversity,
voracity... In a game of identity
deconstruction, the community of clones
that he creates allows him to explore, by
transfer, different more or less eccentric
behaviour patterns.

The artist is fascinated by the effects on
the brain of psychotropic substances such
as drugs and alcohol, the way they can give
rise to unpredictable thoughts, as he is
by any strategy that makes it possible
to escape from an ossified state of
consciousness. In 1995 he designed
‘decision-making kits’ to go along with the
dwarf clones of Comment mieux guider notre
vie au quotidien... [How to best guide our
everyday lives...], a fable reminiscent
of a novel that was, for many, the bible of
non-conformism, Luke Rhinehart’s The Dice
Man (1971), or the story of the man bogged
down in boredom who decided one day to make
all his decisions by throwing dice. He thus
adopts a new way of living, ego-free and
limitless, with chance permitting him to
play a whole host of roles as he rediscovers
the child’s joy at being turn by turns
a cowboy, an Indian, and a cop.

This wealth of off-kilter characters
exposes the frustration of people whose
desires, constantly being nagged at and
renewed by the consumer society, are never
satisfied. By referring us to our own
contradictions and the absurdity of our
society, Gilles Barbier’s oeuvre is not
only overflowing with imagination, but
also eminently political.

L.H.