press release

Bernard Bazile the unclassifiable French artist has for some years been investigating one of the symbols of the radical avant-garde, the famous can of Artist's shit (Merda d'artista), by the Italian artist Piero Manzoni, and its significance for the milieu and history of art. He considers that since its creation in 1961 it has shaken up and modified all the value criteria of contemporary art. This exhibition stages a new work, an analytical observation, both ludic and provocative, based on projections of interview-documents in which the different owners and collectors talk about their particular story with the Merda d'artista.

This new large-scale solo exhibition, after the controversial It's OK to say no! at the Centre Georges Pompidou in 1993, conveys all the complexity of the artist's reflections about society and its signs. It is the fruit of a commission by the IAC for an exhibition that will subsequently, as a work in itself, become part of the institute's Frac Rhône-alpes Collection. For almost 3 years, Bernard Bazile has been pursuing his research to result a series of document-films, immersing himself in the universe of art-collecting through encounters and interviews with the current owners of Merda d'artista, a veritable icon of the radical avant-garde, which was originally produced in an edition of 90 copies. He carried out more than 80 interviews in which he asked current owners of the work – both individual collectors and representatives of institutions – to talk about their relationship with this work in the environment of their collections, and photographed them holding the prime exhibit itself. The resulting 11 hours of document-reports provide a fascinating case study of the production and reception of this singular work, but also an exceptional enquiry into the differences between artistic values and economic values. The installation comprises 16 projections of individual portraits of the present owners, accompanied by exclusive footage concerning the context of the creation and distribution of this work, retracing it’s legendary, mythical origin as well as it’s present fetish status. Here Bernard Bazile examines, in all its different aspects, the effect of this both innocuous and provocative "object" on the perception and evaluation of any creative act that may have taken place since its eventful advent. And the diversified views of the collectors themselves provide, in a sense, an illustration of society's relationship with its radical artists, and, beyond that, with the avant-garde and the history of how taboos, prohibitions and norms have been transgressed by art.

This exhibition project is a commission by the IAC – Institut d'Art Contemporain Villeurbanne/Lyon. After its premiere in Villeurbanne, the exhibition will travel to the ZKM – Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe.

An artist's book will be published by Editions Images et Manoeuvres, Marseille, with the support of the Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication – Centre National des Arts Plastiques (Fiacre). Pressetext

Bernard Bazile - Une mesure pour tous / One measure for all

weitere Station:
13.05.04 - 08.08.04 ZKM, Karlsruhe