INFORMATION FICTION PUBLICITE (IFP)

"Le Théâtron des nuages"
From March 10th to June 3rd 2012

Whereas ‘Vivement demain,’ the fifth hanging of works from the museum collection, explores the question of the future and of the artist as visionary, the temporary exhibition ‘Le Théâtron des nuages’ is a retrospective of INFORMATION FICTION PUBLICITÉ, an ‘art agency’ better known by the acronym IFP, which worked from 1984 to 1994.

A word from the Exhibition Curator

Whereas ‘Vivement demain,’ the fifth hanging of works from the museum collection, explores the question of the future and of the artist as visionary, the temporary exhibition ‘Le Théâtron des nuages’ is a retrospective of INFORMATION FICTION PUBLICITÉ, an ‘art agency’ better known by the acronym IFP, which worked from 1984 to 1994. Although not represented in the MAC/VAL collection, these years were seminal ones for the French art scene. The questions raised by IFP during this decade, and the answers they formulated, still have remarkable resonance today. The group formed by Jean-François Brun, Dominique Pasqualini and Philippe Thomas (who left in spring 1985) chose the three terms Information Fiction Publicité after analysing the situation of art and the cultural, political and economic context of the early 1980s. The idea was to present the words in a kind of semantic uncertainty allowing for several different levels of interpretation: ‘a common meaning, a more philosophical meaning and a more general meaning.’ IFP also chose these terms because they affirmed a lasting break, a paradigm shift, enabling them to define a theoretical territory from which they could explore the possibilities for art after the end of the 1970s. Their work has been hastily catalogued as media critique, but it is more about a questioning of the respublica in the age of the society of the spectacle.

From the outset, in 1984, the diversity of IFP’s actions spoke volumes about their ambitions and about the broadened perimeter of their artistic project. They gave lectures (L’Invention des figurants, 1984), and sold books and records (Entendonsnous bien, toute la lumière reste à faire sur la réserve de Ligne Générale, 1984; …Vers l’espace du non-encombrement, 1985), but also organised fashion shows (Dorothée bis, 1984) and published inserts in the press (File and Artistes) and exhibition catalogues (Alibis, 1984), etc. Then came the pieces that really established IFP’s distinctive identity: the light boxes containing blue skies flecked with clouds and the installations comprised of tip-up seats. Rather than an exhaustive inventory of works by IFP, the exhibition at MAC/VAL offers a selection of some thirty pieces (some of them ‘updated’) made on the basis of a ‘critical diagnosis.’ It also reflects a salient point about IFP, namely, that in its ten years of existence the ‘agency’ produced only a very small number of works. And many of the works it did produce tended to flagrantly recycle the same images (known as ‘generic images’) or formal elements. In its way, this process of reordering reflects the modular dimension of IFP’s work. The show at MAC/VAL is, like all IFP exhibitions, characterised by a certain ‘dryness,’ by the importance of the space left empty and by the way in which its installation has been specially conceived for this space. Nearly all the works are thus presented in imposing structures made of galvanised steel, a scaffolding assemblage that takes the form of a kind of ‘theatron’ and defines a forum accessible to visitors. This apparatus, based on an idea by Jean-François Brun for which he suggested the title ‘The Theatron of Clouds,’ once again highlights the key importance in IFP’s practice of the very notion of the exhibition, as previously attested by ‘L’Exposition’ (1985), ‘L’Appareil d’exposition’ (1987) and ‘Grande Surface (la place des figurants)’ (1987).

Frank Lamy and David Perreau,
Exhibition Curators

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Presentation

This spring, for the first time in France, MAC/VAL is presenting a group of works by the group “INFORMATION FICTION PUBLICITE (IFP)”. Created around an original concept that updates certain historical works and favors new combinations, the exhibition will highlight the ways in which, beginning in the 1980s, IFP anticipated and questioned the domain of the possible in art.

With IFP’s “ Le théâtron des nuages ” (which can be translated as “ Cloud Théatron ”), the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Val-de-Marne is presenting its first exhibition of contemporary art of a historical nature. As chief curator Alexia Fabre and curator of temporary expositions Frank Lamy explain it, “ This is a sort of event that we’ll repeat in the future – presenting works by living artists responsible for milestones of artistic in France over the past 50 years – always in connection with the museum’s permanent collection. ” Lamy is co-curating the IFP exhibition with David Perreau who also organized the IFP retrospective at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Geneva at the end of 2010. The Geneva exhibition provided a first opportunity for the public to verify the decisive impact of this “ agency ” on the art of the 1980s. (The group of artists claimed the title of “ agency ”, a word which takes on new meaning in the context of the questions their work poses about how art is represented, mediated, and disseminated.) From 1984 to 1994, IFP created a body of work that has come to represent an important milestone in the history of 20th century art, work that questions art and the conditions of its creation. Starting 10 March, the MAC/VAL will present its original, particularly well-documented point of view on IFP, one created in perfect collaboration with the artists Jean-François Brun and Dominique Pasqualini. Although the show will not present new works (for the simple reason that the agency stopped producing work in 1994) it has voluntarily involved two of the agency’s protagonists in its very conception with the desire to reactivate, update, and even “ amplify ” certain emblematic works like images of clouds, tarps, lightboxes and wooden blocks, placing the viewer in the midst of their process.

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