Castled: Benoît Maire
The Bordeaux–based Benoît Maire gives us an overview of Castled, his first project with joségarcía ,mx, a contemporary art space in Mérida, Yucatan, where the French artist has used local materials and collaborated with native craftspeople to create in the ceiling-less space an installation that combines the natural and the human-made.
The space is a white cube that includes the outside—the sky, natural light, rain and sometimes rainbows, plants, trees—so in fact the space without an exhibition is already a dynamic environment. Adding “artistic intentions” and objects in the space is the proposition for each artist who presents work there. So there are several possible strategies. What I’ve done can be understood as a set of objects that serve to observe nature itself.
We have produced all the objects in Mérida with wood, brass, marble, and tikul (fossilized stone). I also made a dozen cloud paintings. I decided to include one of them in the show that moves from the office to the gallery space depending on the weather. As with the frog that climbs to the top of the ladder if the air pressure is good, my painting, while outside, indicates what the weather is suitable for it. By creating this relation between the weather and the painting, the painting is somehow humanized.
The main gesture of the show is the placement of six chairs facing trees. I made them for a brand I own with three architects (Ker-Xavier), produced with Isaac Segura, using a design I worked on in France, in Meuse, while working on a project at Vent des Forêts with Julien Carreyn. Four of the chairs are waiting in a corner of the gallery, and two are facing a tree. The latter invite the viewer to sit and watch the tree—this is my first intention. My second intention is to face one lively tree toward one dead tree. The chair is made of wood from two different trees (pukte and zapote) that are of the same wood as the live trees, but once they become chairs they are no longer considered part of nature, but material for human-made design with abstract forms (circle, rectangle).
So this other set of intentions emerged, that is to work with geometric shapes framing nature in the Mérida space. Usually I concentrate on the relation between philosophical concepts and artistic forms and expression. This show offered the opportunity to organize a meeting point between the natural and informal expression of nature and the form of what dominates nature, namely human use of it for particular expressions. The very tight concept behind that is Heidegger’s idea, regarding how humans consider nature as a stock for their activities. They do not see nature as a mysterious expression but as material quantities that can be used by human reasoning for useful purposes.
While working on the show I have also done some furniture, using designs I already developed, but with local materials. Those tiny differences in material, weight, color, and so on feed my understanding of furniture making. One work, the mask, is made of brass, and its form is like a partial disc. I decided to place it at the top of the central wall of the space, as if you could continue in your mind the shape of a full disc. I assembled behind the disk some tubes and five solar lamps that we bought in a store. So when night is coming, the mask starts to float and some light emerges behind it. This is maybe the most intriguing piece in the show, as it involves perhaps ten minutes of ambiguity for the viewer, when the presence of the object in the space is really uncertain. The presence of the light with this mask is maybe the central meaning of the show, dealing with what is controlled by humans versus what escapes human control.
Born in 1978 in Pessac, Benoît Maire, who is a graduate of the Villa Arson, Nice and of the Sorbonne, Paris 1, did a post-diplome at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Recents solo exhibitions included George Slays the Dragon, Bielefelder Kunstverein, 2016, Letre, La verrière Hermes, Brussels and LETTER, Western Front, Vancouvers, 2015, spiaggia di menzogne, Fondazione Giuliani, Roma, Weapon, David Roberts Art Fondation, London, 2013. He directed a full-length film, Repetition Island, presented at Tate Modern, in London and at the Centre Pompidou, in Paris. Recents publications include History of Geometry, Archive Books, The Object of Criticism, Roma Publication and Benoît Maire, Drawing Room Confession. Next solo show is In CAPC Museum in Bordeaux.