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,