In 2016, Despacio’s Central Archive, located alongside the exhibition space, will plunge with relish into an ocean of paradox and possibilities, freed from the necessity of making sense. Newly comprised of artworks, correspondence and traces of happenings and actions, it will stand as a testament to an extraordinary freedom from convention.
Critical voices of reason will be deconstructed in pursuit of free thinking.
Pursuit of absence in three acts
While most archives are banished to remote corners of their institutions, Despacio’s archive shares center stage within the exhibition space. The archive will remain on display as such in three iterations, each for the course of one year and during which time its works will function similarly to memories in one’s mind. Offering a universe of entry points to engage and interpret the past, viewers will be encouraged to imagine what is yet to emerge.
Despacio realizará su búsqueda artística e intelectual de la ausencia en tres actos que se desarrollarán durante tres años:
Cada acto reúne exposiciones, acontecimientos y bibliotecas en residencia alrededor del tema, así como un archivo central, que es una colección de obras que se compilan cuidadosamente e incluyen objetos de arte físico, correspondencia y rastros de acontecimientos y acciones. En varias ocasiones durante el año, una selección de estas obras se activará en el espacio de exposición junto con el propio archivo.
Vivian Sky Rehberg for Frieze Magazine
In 2012, the French artist Julien Prévieux was working an average of eleven hours, 29 minutes and 15 seconds per day. We know this because his fellow artist, Martin Le Chevallier, conducted a month-long experiment in which he asked Prévieux to record his ‘non-artistic time’, his ‘low-intensity artistic time’, his ‘creative time’ and his ‘creative peaks’ in a specially designed, fold-out notebook. Le Chevallier then displayed Prévieux’s four-colour Bic pen (used to tick the boxes) and the charted results on a trestle-table installation as 11h29’15”, mesure du temps de travail d’un artiste (11h29’15” Measure of an Artist’s Working Hours, 2012).
While it might seem strange to begin a text about Prévieux by mentioning another artist, there’s too much sweet irony in Le Chevallier’s work to ignore. Prévieux, who deservedly won the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2014, is probably best known for one of his earliest projects, Lettres de non-motivation (Letters of Non-Application, 2000–07). This archive, which was published as a book in 2007, contains scores of covering letters Prévieux wrote in response to listings for management, manufacturing, sales and other jobs for which he had no, or dubious, qualifications and no real interest. In some of the Lettres de non-motivation, he outright refuses a job offer before it has even been made; in others, he explicitly critiques everything from the tone of the advert to company policy. In one of my favourites, and one that sets the tongue firmly in the cheek, Prévieux reproaches a company for seeking to hire a ‘glass cutter’: ‘Times have changed, Sir! You must absolutely update yourselves and propose jobs that correspond to the present […] We live in a post-industrial society, sawing can wait, but financial and leisure products or semi-conductors can’t […] You are impeding innovation so I must refuse this retrograde job your company is offering.’
Some companies took the time to reply to Prévieux’s letters, while others sent out standard rejections. But the artist was not sitting idly by. Instead, he channelled his interest in labour and language into a conceptually coherent, yet formally multifarious, body of work that includes painting, sculpture, architecture, installation and performance.
Prévieux’s materials and media vary from project to project, but it’s fair to say that, along with text, design features prominently, both as an approach to making work and as a visible outcome. Have a Rest (2007), looks like a handcrafted leather bench curling around two wood-veneer towers, but it’s also a ‘copy’ of the first super-computer devised in 1977 by Seymour Cray. ‘D’Octobre a Février’ (From October to February, 2010) is a series of crew-neck pullovers made by knitters Prévieux recruited via the internet. The sleeves are black and the bodies are decorated with brightly coloured abstract patterns of little squares produced by software used for predicting and measuring crowd dynamics during moments of collective revolt. Yellow, for instance, represents the calm individuals in the crowd, while red represents the agitators. Each individual knitter used algorithmic data from a measured crowd to create the motif on the garment.
Prévieux’s focus on the interaction between humans and machines is not driven by a penchant for sci-fi, but relates to a broader interest in technology’s role in the evolution and decline of structures and systems of knowledge. In Atelier de dessin B.A.C. du 14ème arrondissement de Paris (Drawing Workshop B.A.C. of the 14th District of Paris, 2011), he taught four Paris policemen how to draw Voronoi diagrams from their crime-scene maps, demonstrating how the drawings would allow them to analyze the distribution of neighbourhood crime more effectively. Of course, computers can do this in an instant and, due to the slow and laborious process, the data the policemen produced was worthless. But the real value, according to Prévieux, was a series of ‘very successful’ abstract drawings.
Hands are invariably busy in Prévieux’s work: writing and building and knitting and drawing. Indeed, gesture has preoccupied the artist for some time. What Shall We Do Next? (2007–11) is an animated film screened from an old-fashioned overhead projector that demonstrates the hand gestures that will be needed to activate our future devices (smart phones, computers, etc.). These gestures are ‘designed’ and registered at the US patent office even before the devices on which they will be used are produced. Prévieux’s Prix Marcel Duchamp winning projects – a choreographed and spoken-word performance, an accompanying video, What Shall We Do Next? (Sequence No.2) and the video What Shall We Do Next? (Sequence No.3) (both 2014) – integrate and expand on this investigation of the role and power of ‘natural user interfaces’ in our lives.
In the first performance, four dancers re-enact the gestures that have entered the vocabulary of Hollywood sci-fi films over time, such as ‘wave to activate’, ‘swipe to dismiss’, etc. In the second performance, dancers execute moves that were contested during an ownership dispute over Martha Graham’s choreographic legacy, while the third contains a live update of the archive of future gestures. As the dancers move, one of the performers recounts the facts and background information in a genial, didactic manner. The video version of What Shall We Do Next? opens with the dancers making gestures while reciting the dates when the gestures were copyrighted, and goes on to interrogate, through voice and movement, how our ‘natural’ forms of social interaction are mediated by technologies, as well as some of the more clever or ludicrous inventions meant to facilitate interaction that were never produced or marketed. Welcome to the world of control, capture, recognize and detect, where gestures are codified and owned, and where their meanings and functions become increasingly difficult to keep track of.
Julien Prévieux lives in Paris, France. In 2014, he was awarded the Prix Marcel Duchamp and has currently a solo show at the Centre Pompidou (until 1 February 2016).
Prévieux’s work was previously shown at the 48th Venice Biennale, the 10th Istanbul Biennial and the art fairs Fiac in Paris, Liste in Basel and Pulse in New York. His work is part of the collections of the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, the Fonds Municipal d’Art Contemporain de la ville de Paris and of Frac Brittany and Frac Nord-Pas-de-Calais. His work was exhibited at international solo exhibitions such as Centre Pompidou in Paris, Window 42 in London, Galerie Jousse Enterprise in Paris and at the San Francisco Art Institute. He participated in group exhibitions at various locations including the Witte de With – Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, CAPC – Musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, Grand Palais and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
He is represented by Galerie Jousse Entreprise, Paris.
La actitud de Diego ante la pintura es la misma que ante la vida.
Ejemplifico: a los pocos meses de conocerlo, lo encontré por casualidad en uno de los mercados más grandes de Costa Rica (el Mercado Central de Alajuela), donde había improvisado un pequeño puesto ambulante. Intentaba vender copias piratas de Ben Hur.
Sin embargo, la película original había sido parcialmente intervenida con una filmación casera del martirio de Jesús. Diego había visitado algunos centros geriátricos completamente vestido del hijo de Dios, ahí intentó iniciar peleas con los ancianos; las escenas habían sido musicalizadas.
Palabras de Guillermo Tovar Carazo
Esta exposición se llevó a cabo de setiembre 16 a octubre 16, 2015.
Diego Arias Asch, nacido en 1988, es un artista visual y cineasta basado en San José, Costa Rica. Se graduó de la Escuela de comunicación de la Universidad de Costa Rica, con una especialidad en producción audiovisual. Estudió dibujo y animación con el artista Guillermo Tovar Carazo.
En 2009 inició con la producción de documentales manipulados e irrelevantes, en los que destaca ‘I’ve Lost My Friends’ (2012), filmado en Austin, Texas, durante el festival South by Southwest. En 2010 fundó el Doyle Club, para la producción y divulgación de sus proyectos colaborativos. En 2012 fue bailarín para Flaming Lips en un concierto.
En el 2014 co-creó la editorial Feliz Feliz para la publicación de la primera novela de un joven; posteriormente la cerró, y se encuentra en edición del segundo libro-arte del Doyle Club. Desde abril del 2014 se encuentra en grabación de un largometraje a largo plazo del cineasta Neto Villalobos, sobre su persona y el desarrollo de su relación romántica con la diseñadora Paz Gutiérrez Guerinoni.
Su primer largometraje será lanzado a mediados del 2017.