Zoo galerie, Nantes (F)
And what if the famous CFR really existed, the Consortium for the Falsification of Reality whose activities are narrated in Antoine Bello’s last two novels (1)? What if they were living among us, these agents of a reality that is truer than nature because it has been tampered with, disrupted through discrete modifications nonetheless powerful enough to influence it course? We live at the heart of a culture of the image, but of an image that has been truncated, rigged; ever since the Golden Calf, our society has been trying to make us interpret the images it presents us as realities other than what they quite simply are: relationships, and not entities (2). This double postulate boils down to a single question: who are these falsifiers today? The media is always the first thing that comes to mind, but we forget all too often that–as its name suggests–the media is itself only a kind of relation: between a power, whatever it may be, and a public. Tracing the fine line that separates fact from fiction, De l’Interprétation borrows its title from Aristotle, who, in his eponymous text, elaborates this incalculably valuable distinction between signification and truth value.
The exhibition aims to re-inject subjectivity into information, in the image of Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Demonstration Drawings, or Omer Fast’s CNN Concatenated. A series of drawings inspired by demonstration photos in the Herald Tribune, commissioned by Tiravanija from a group of Thai artists, the Demonstration Drawings play with the conventions of journalism through their imperfect rendering and mock their authority by raising a thorny question: who is more likely to bring us the true story behind an event, a reporter with his trenchant globalised convictions, or an anonymous stranger and his personal sensibility? Out of a monologue reconstituted by Omer Fast, a frenetic cut-up of 2001 CNN news features, emerges the expression of a post 9/11 collective consciousness: that of a multiple “I” who dares to doubt, reflecting the numerous direct addresses to the spectator buried within the mass of information that bombards us on the nightly news. Information becomes a scattered rumor, mere hearsay, dissolving into a reassuring repetition until unconditional acceptance is complete.
With Hearsay, John Menick makes a breathtaking slide show out of it, compiling a series of short phrases that he had already heard or repeated, none of which have ever been verified or refuted. All of them, therefore, are plausible. How did our subjectivity become colonised? Pointing to the exploitation at work behind the image-war that has been raging since 9/11 and the Abou Ghraib scandal, Sean Snyder’s films decontextualize images of diverse provenance (official, media-related, or amateur) and decode the modifications imposed upon them by the exponential proliferation of communication technologies and the economic stakes underlying zones of conflict. Transforming the spectators that we are into witnesses of a growing media fiction.
(1) Antoine Bello, Les Falsificateurs, 2007, and its sequel, Les Eclaireurs, 2009, Gallimard.
(2) See W.J.T. Mitchell, Iconology: Image, Texte, Ideology, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Omer Fast is represented in France by gb agency, Paris, Sean Snyder and Rirkrit Tiravanija by Chantal Crousel, Paris. More infos about John Menick’s works: johnmenick.com and about Pascal Poulain: pascalpoulain.com