KIRIA KOULA, SAN FRANCISCO
an exhibition curated by Juana Berrio
Benoît Maire's practice revolves around the interaction of objects, images, words, and philosophical ideas and how they might co-exist and transform over time. His process is one of collage, montage, or editing. His compositions are assemblages of different elements that he selects, organizes, condenses, modifies, and juxtaposes into one large scenario to which he prescribes an ongoing and performative life. To him, the point lies in the performance of an idea, rather than in any finite or resolved manifestation or result.
While philosophy is a consistent reference, Maire uses it more as a metaphor than as a theoretical support. Since he sees philosophy as a tool (for helping humanity understand itself), he has been drawn to the concept of the tool, or, more specifically, to the idea of a measuring tool. A measuring tool, by definition, is an object used to measure something else, and is only useful insofar as it connects itself to something foreign to it. A watch, for example, is only useful if it measures time, not if it measures itself. A tool, therefore, becomes not only a metaphor for philosophy itself, but also for the process of montage or collage-the coordinated co-existence of two different and disparate elements. He refers here to Lyotard's notion of The Differend-a condition whereby two parties work within such different linguistic or semiotic systems that communication and consensus can never be reached and difference can never be reconciled or overcome.
Unlike a philosopher, Maire doesn't intent to frame a problem and define it, but, in his words, to create a "puddle" that is meant to spread and grow over time. In that spirit, for Kiria Koula, the artist presents the fourth chapter of a series of exhibitions, this one titled Sticker Beings. The works are what the artist calls archipelagoes of sculptural situations made of objects that have been created by the artist himself, which he calls "decided objects," and by a series of objects that the artist has discarded from previous stages of the project (stones, pieces of wood, pieces of paper or paintings...), which he simply calls "waste." Each piece of waste-which is therefore nameless and "undecided"-is indexed with a sticker of a word or symbol, which is a philosophical operation. The way the artist performs a new set of decisions in his process of installing and transforming the objects in the physical space of the gallery will then trigger yet another new series of "decided objects" and "waste," the same way editing works. The new combinations create new composites, and a philosophy of incalculable decisions starts to emerge.
text: Juana Berrio
images: Johnna Arnold