WEAPON is the first solo exhibition in a London institution by French artist Benoît Maire (b. 1978). Arising from his interest in philosophy and conceptual art, but nonetheless immensely formal, his work reveals him as an artist who has inherited as much from surrealism and minimalism as from Marcel Broodthaers and Joseph Beuys. This aspect of his practice is the focus of the current exhibition curated by DRAF’s director, Vincent Honoré, with assistant curator Nicoletta Lambertucci.
Benoît’s work often involves collage and assemblage, forcing structures, references and materials into paradoxical but productive relationships. The original sources, frequently borrowed from art history, are not crucial; what matters is to make cognitive structures collide and to find a wild and sensual rapport with theory and culture. Besides a discourse on theory as shape, Maire proposes a surprising relationship to freedom (of interpretation, at the very least) and thought as co-production.
This exhibition introduces a large group of new works: photographs, sculptures and videos, produced for London. The entire exhibition can be read as a cohesive assemblage of autonomous works , in which art becomes a sort of aesthetic terrorism. The exhibition revolves around two main motifs: vision and measuring devices as weapons.
Weapons are objects the artist creates as measuring tools. Objects become weapons either through performative actions captured on video, or through assemblage. By this translation, the object gains a new meaning and function: it becomes a weapon and takes on violent associations. As the artist explains: ‘I wear on my wrist a weapon that gives me time. In the bathroom, I stand on a weapon that says a weight. In my pocket, I have a multi-function weapon that gives me the next day’s weather and today’s price of gold and wakes me up when I need to. I have a weapon that destroys time, one that destroys my being, others that destroy the landscape, the market, and the dream.’ The measuring device thus disrupts and perverts our relation to the world. The question posed in WEAPON is, Are we losing or destroying our existential relationship to the world through our constant calculations of it?
DRAF, a museum remodelled as a laboratory, becomes itself a place for measurement, where a mirror can double space and a series of sculptures frame and re-frame it.
Benoît Maire has presented works at the Luma Foundation, Arles; I.C.A., London; Magasin, Grenoble; Tate Modern, London; and Centre Pompidou, Paris. He has had solo exhibitions in numerous art centres in Europe. He is represented in London by Hollybush Gardens, in France by Cortex Athletico, and in Berlin by Croy Nielsen.
WEAPON was organized by DRAF, London, in collaboration with Fondazione Giuliani, Rome, and supported by Institut Français and Fluxus, with the participation of Chateau Citran and additional support from Cura Magazine and Mousse Magazine. Our media partner is Spike Magazine.