From 1 to 10 May - Fonds Claude & France Lemand-IMA

  • FATMI, Propaganda.

    Propaganda, 2020. VHS Tapes, 138 x 79 cm. Unique piece. © Mounir Fatmi. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.


Propaganda , 2020. VHS Tapes, 138 cm x 79 cm. Unique piece.

« Propaganda » is a series of black & white paint­ings ini­ti­ated in 2012, the medium on which they are painted being rows of VHS tapes. A means for recording images that was the norm in the 1980s and 1990s and a widely used com­mer­cial format, the VHS tape is also a recur­rent mate­rial in Mounir Fatmi’s work, used in paint­ings, sculp­tures or instal­la­tions.

All of these pieces ques­tion the place of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and media expo­sure in our con­tem­po­rary soci­eties and try to define the rela­tion con­tem­po­rary art has to images and their power – taking inspi­ra­tion, among other things, from the philo­soph­ical notions devel­oped by Guy Debord and from artistic move­ments such as min­i­malism and pop art that placed the image or its dis­ap­pear­ance at the heart of their pre­oc­cu­pa­tions. In par­tic­ular, this series of paint­ings explores the rela­tions between com­mu­ni­ca­tion and pro­pa­ganda and observes how mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion elab­o­rated its tech­niques since the pop­u­lar­iza­tion of video recording and the fact it was able to enter mil­lions of house­holds and reach the con­sciences of a great number of viewers. It observes the forms of social orga­ni­za­tions that resulted from that, and their rela­tion to indi­vid­uals or their effect on them.

The « Propaganda » com­po­si­tions make great use of cir­cles and curves, fig­ures that are fre­quently pre­sent in the plastic vocab­u­lary Mounir Fatmi uses to study sys­tems that pro­duce sig­ni­fi­ca­tions, such as lan­guage, reli­gion or soci­eties. From its incep­tion, mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion con­ceived its own pro­cesses, whose sim­plicity only adds to their effi­ciency; pro­cesses that pro­pa­ganda films, a genre that spread during that same period, use as well: the rep­e­ti­tion, mul­ti­pli­ca­tion and accu­mu­la­tion of images, the sim­plicity of the mes­sage con­veyed and widespread dis­tri­bu­tion – all these tend to con­fuse the viewer and create a hyp­notic effect.

But here, the work doesn’t imply that the viewer should submit to the power of images. It uses that same rhetoric, but also exposes its inner func­tioning in order to reduce their grip. The paint­ings in the « Propaganda » series keep at a dis­tance the emo­tion gen­er­ated by the habitual spec­tacle of images and opt instead for the formal pre­ci­sion of geo­metric com­po­si­tions where inner work­ings, struc­tures and rela­tions are revealed.

Studio Fatmi, January 2018.

Copyright © Galerie Claude Lemand 2012.

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