I have some catching up to do (I’ve been more active on my Twitter account recently), starting with this catalogue the Tokyo Wonder Site just sent me of Antonin Fourneau’s recent residency and exhibition at DAF Tokyo.
He and I chatted quite a bit during his residency, and I loved the work he produced there, especially this overloaded joystick.
So when the TWS asked me to write an accompagnying blurb to contextualize Antonin’s residency, I was more than happy to oblige. Here is the short text I wrote, followed by a few photos from Antonin’s work during his stay:
Antontin Fourneau, or the Double-Bearded Frenchman
When starting an artistic career, one of the biggest problems is what to do with all those annoying influences that inspired you in the first place? Borges resumed the problem as that of Hamlet’s ghost: how can the play go on, when all these annoying predecessors keep (literally) popping in their heads? A young artist should resolve these issues fairly quickly, and somehow Antonin Fourneau seems to have solved his artistic identity crisis through a very special secret ingredient: a sophisticated form of amateurism. Antonin’s hydra-monster of influences are very much infused with the energy of popular culture. What better context for inspiration then, than the supercharged japanese recycling-plant of all culture, continually giving birth to new definitions of comics, teenagers, gaming, pop, … But beyond recycling, beyond pop, and beyond the topical accuracy of video games as our future medium, there is an added impression of fun in all of Antonin’s work, a sort of sincerity that only an amateur could understand. “Amateur” — in the sense of lover or aficionado. A delightful ignorance of the cynical blasé of fancy contemporary artists negotiating their next posture. A favorite figure that continually returns in his work, is that of the bearded lady: that cliché of otherness that in its lack of sophistication somehow becomes its own caricature; except of course for the pre-adolescent child, who gazes upon it in rapturous wonderment. When I look at some twenty-odd buttons of all sizes joyfully scattered about a controller, I can only read in it a boyish call to the gaming industry: “please someone, come and bring some joy back into this stick”. In this way, Antonin has stolen that ladybeard and placed it on top of his own, thereby redefining his own — very French, and very devilish — form of a wink, which is both innocent and sophisticated, all at the same time.