Le Grand Vert (, le Rouge et le Noir) - 2018, History Revolving - Egypt - 2018, and other Made Readies
The title Le Grand Vert (in English The Big Green) is refering to the power of sex (someone being “still green” meaning in French that this person still retains his or her will and capacity for sexual activity well into old age). In French, Le Grand Vert is also phonetically identical to Le Grand Verre (Marcel Duchamp's inconic Big Glass).
The second part of title is referring to a French XIXth century book: Le Rouge et le Noir, Chronique du XIXe siècle (The Red and the Black: A Chronicle of the 19th Century) a novel by Stendhal published in 1830. It chronicles the attempts of a poor young man to rise socially in a society offering no other social ladders than the clerical one (black) and the military one (red). The interesting paradox then and today is that both institutions are used by those in power to maintain social order and inequalities on the people. In the novel, both the system and the young man are repeatedly betrayed (I personally would say saved) by humans’ passions for love and sex.
Le Grand Vert (, le Rouge et le Noir) is part of the artist's Made Readies series, begun in 2007 and presented in 2015 at the Museum of Sens on the occasion of its retrospective. Because they are soaked in pink paint, simple hollow objects then take a sexual conotation that imposes itself on the viewer. The sexual function, however improbable, is then much more powerful than the object's initial function. Because of this, these pieces exhibited at the Museum of Sens (formerly a religious building) were the subject of an attempt of censorship after the opening of the exhibition and one of them was vandalized soon after.
History Revolving - Egypt - 2018, exhibited at Something Else Biennale, Cairo
In Egypt, like in many other countries on this planet, artists and curators are now in a very complicated situation and it has becomes impossible to criticize the regime without taking a clear risk to face prison or worse. As a foreign artist and guest of Something Else Biennale, it was my duty both to show solidarity but also to act as a responsible man who does not want to put his hosts' lifes in danger. So I decided to create a work that would need a bit of an explanation to become understandable, a work that would look absolutely unarmful if you are not given the proper key.
So this political work is disguised as an ordinary conceptual minimal work of art. The key to read it is simple once you know that the colors of the work have been chosen for their political meaning :
The khaki green side of the sculture stands for military power,
the black side stands for religion as a political power,
the pink side stands for an ever more eroticised consumer society,
and the embedded standardised round objects express obsession for sex in a frustrated society ruled by men and only men.
The shape of the oil barrel stands for the petrodollar monarchies financing all this.
And finally the turntable symbolises the fact that society can't get rid of these powers for good, as they seem to always come back like in a vicious circle.
History Revolving , Egypt - 2018
(Exhibition view Something Else Cairo Biennale)
Made Readies #2 & #3 - 2007 (Exhibition view Museum of Sens)
La Venus del espejo - 2007
Le déjeuner sur l'herbe - 2007