With “ ’idéo”, from March 5 to June 5, 2011, the contemporary art museum in the Val-de-Varne presents its first great monographic exhibition within a French museum to one of the leaders in performance art, who for numerous years now likes to combine know-how with the absurd. For the MAC/VAL, Éric Duyckaerts has produced some new videos as well as some innovative objects, sculptures, wall-paintings and silk-screen prints. A lot has been said about both the artist and his works – a brilliant speaker, puzzling theorist, mysterious scientist, comic scholar... but who is really Éric Duyckaerts? It’s hard to answer as he’s a multi-faceted man who can’t be categorized by what he says. His thoughts slide around and words interchange naturally from one field of knowledge to another. Regardless of the subjects discussed, everything appears to be implausibly plausible.
The work by Éric Duyckaerts notably takes root in his desire to sabotage the present discourses on art. His performances result in staged illustrations of knowledge and other games focused on the art of dissertation. For this he characterizes, with obvious pleasure, styles of elocution to the point of ridicule. He changes accents in an outrageous manner … and infuses his presentations with obscure quotations. The artist unrelentingly pursues a mirroring device between knowledge and humour.
“You should never believe that ideas come before the forms,” he declared to us. The proposed method is thus built on logical principles, proposed to us like tools to decipher the works. Regardless if they are in figure eights, circles or in a line, they are always enigmas presented in the same way. His mysterious sculptures made of objects hanging from the ceiling are referred to as analogies. They answer to a formal logic such as games with letters, number and typographical signs … inviting the visitor to join in on a fun and jubilatory thinking experience. In regards to his analogies, he explains:
“They are not just analogies. Does everyone draw analogies all the time? No. These are interlinked chains of analogies. Or sequences of analogies. As you like. The idea is that you start with commonly accepted truths and end with absurdities along a continuous line of reasoning. For example, I can easily pass from 1 over 2 equals 3 over 6 to something like an olive plus a Camembert equals the UN flag plus a horn of plenty. Without any rupture of intelligence.”
True or false? The visitor doesn’t have time to ask that kind of question. And it doesn’t really matter since it’s all legitimate. Éric Duyckaerts proposes an odyssey across the universe of knowledge, an unexpected combination of art with science. It’s within this to and fro between knowledge and art where the itinerary of this multifaceted work is made… where certitudes don’t matter anymore.
Éric Duyckaerts was born in Liege in 1953. He currently lives in Nice where he teaches at the Villa Arson. His work revolves around humour, plastic arts and exogenous knowledge, such as sciences, law, mathematical logic, etc. He is also interested in exploring analogical figures and tracery. He very often uses video and conferences as a medium, but he also appreciates the more traditional ones. Éric Duyckaerts is the author of an essay, Hegel ou la vie en rose, (1992). The artist represented the French community of Belgium at the Belgium Pavilion for the Venice Biennale in 2007.
“’idéo”: a title which makes one simultaneously think of “video” and “idea”. It emphasizes the root “id” which in both Greek and Latin, mean knowledge (ideas) and vision. Under the apostrophe is hidden an ancient lost Greek letter – the digamma. It can be replaced by an accent, an “e” or a “v”, thus leading onto two meanings – either vision or knowledge.