ART DE VIVRE
‘we can be heroes, just for one day…’
Art de Vivre is a series of collages produced between 2005 and 2008. It is a comment on the unattainable desire for harmony between human existence and action in the world. Starting as a parody on the fantasy of omnipotence and the fear of failure, the work draws references from personal memories, collective myths and traumas. The collages bring together a wide array of materials; clippings from magazines, workout manuals, graphic logo books and vintage photographic prints, seemingly connected via a chain of associations.
‘The new world’, ‘the healthy body culture’, ‘the superhuman’: many of the theories so dear to Modernism are here under scrutiny. With borrowing the formal composition of avant-guard propaganda posters, Art de Vivre turns the positive vision, forward thinking, assertive language of Modernism into an uncertain, dark, intimate reflection, questioning the role and future of the human being in this world.
Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Will Coyote, Superman and Flash Gordon. Should we accept our mortal limitations or aim towards superpower abilities for all? The endless battle between lack of ability and desire for omnipotence are here re-enacted, in the montages, like in a scene of a stage play or a frame from a comic strip where the absolutely realistic and the resolutely fantastic casually commingle. Part human and part cartoon, the subjects of Art de Vivre are an elegy to imperfection, the exaltation of error, the enactment of clumsiness; they look almost ridiculous, not quite fitting in the surroundings. Something in their life is about to go wrong. Are they flying or are they falling? If the story line of the series is about ‘having to be in the world’ the actors must be clowns, and failure must be the recipe for their success.
As the titles of some of the individual works seem to suggest, Art de Vivre becomes a forgotten family album or a distant memory that we no longer recall. Within the play of this aesthetic of uncertainty is the ultimate alternation of Human as God at one end and Human as Fool at the other, self-assertion versus self-abnegation, action versus immobility, existence versus the void.
Buster Keaton - Free and Easy, 1930 © doctormacro.com