Armand Morin – Hygge (Interview)
In a post-Tumblr world we use to think images speak for themselves and we use and share as we owned them. But behind an image, there’s always an artist and a discourse, let’s see what they got to say.
Can you quickly introduce yourself and your background?
Ich Bin Französisch, I was born in Nevers: a place as attractive as Chateauroux or Vierzon. I studied fine arts in Nantes and I’m currently following the Fresnoy formation.
Halfway between documentary land art and design, how would you define your work?
I don’t think what I do has anything to do with land art, in the sense that I do not interact with a place I visit. However, I document the venue I travel to. The story and the shape of the place often interest me more than the interpretation I could do from it. It leads me to collect things and make images, Then with these documentary record, I looked for a more personal vision, by assembling and telescoping different images and ideas. I operate the same way with sculptures or objects I made, I try to write a story by formal rebounds. When I work on objects, it is to synthesize memories, information, shapes, materials and conceived links between them.
What is your video project Dynarock?
Dynarock project is not just a video project. It’s a kind of box where I keep all the work that has to do with the idea of stone set in motion. I am fascinated by the idea that the stone, the rock, the mountain can be seen as flexible objects, what they actually are. With a certain naivety, I find very beautiful the erosion drawing in a canyon, the meteorite trajectory, the quarrying, the mountain formation, the moving of a building from a continent to another, the changing form of a sand dune, the fossilization of a living things etc. … Many of my works evoke the geological mobility by combining observed facts and poetic interpretations.
Walter Benjamin spoke of the loafer as a creator whose look was focused on everything and anything without preconceived ideas. Is that also in your own stroll, where you find inspiration.
Of course! Everything starts with a walk it’s a good way to kill boredom. It’s easy to be amazed and fascinated when you walk, because they are moments of curiosity which boosts the intensity of our sensations. It’s almost a hallucination, the beginning of a memory, a story. However, it is true that there are places more impressive than others, but the fascination may as well come from an Alps panorama, artificial lighting in an underground car park or a Romanesco cabbage in a kitchen garden. This should be a matter of scale of appreciation.
You say your work is based on the typical tourist route. Yet even if your videos are supposely taking a sightseeing trip, it contains « uncanny » key moments. Are you looking for this kind of feelings, at once familiar and very far from reality ?
This is real I think it’s just a matter of mental reconstitution, memory and links that can be done. On one day tour I made, we visit a desert, an aerospace museum and we ended up in the resort night-club where I listened to David Guetta while watching the smoke cloud of a cigarette get through a green laser. Summarize these three events which occured on a day of an ordinary tourist in Arizona, automatically create some oddity.
In 1954 Guy Debord wrote « Club-Med a cheap holiday in other people’s misery, ». Mass tourism has never been enjoyed by intellectuals, it is nevertheless one of the central themes of your video work, what concepts are you trying to communicate ?
I’m interested in activities related to leisure time, tourism is a diving into the staging of mimics places that do not really exist, places distant in space and time. You can find these set-up grotesque, but you could also consider all these tricks sophisticated like the formal representations of a very singular and accomplished world. I try to think of a zoo, a museum, a carnival as a painting or a movie. Even intellectuals live through travel experiences ! And everyone knows how to appreciate these cut-off moments, these opportunities to think differently, to project into new projects, etc … I find it very dishonest to give opinions of value, the organized mass tourism on one hand and the adventurers backpackers travel on the other hand. We are all searching pretty much for the same thing …
All forms of tourism are devastating, they pervert the environment, twist cultures and distort human relationships. We are the main actors of this show, we can not get rid of it. I absolutely do not believe in the authenticity of encounters with places or people during our travel. We return of our jorney with absolutely false certainty, but this understanding is the result of imaginary superficial operations, that I find very interesting. Exoticism is the most stupid creation of our civilization and at the same time a neverending source of inventions.
The presence of nature in your creative work takes two forms: a kind of artificial mimicry or a type of nature that must coexist with the industry world. Should we see a bleak message about ecology or the picture of a healthy rivalry ?
Like everyone I’m aware of ecological basic issue, but I’m not trying to make work in relation to these issues. More generally, I prefer to make fun of absurd situations, rather than launching a direct critical speech. I was not enough of a specialist of this complex field and do not want to give moral lectures. This would push open doors to denounce the devastation and chaos generated by our society.This world which is planning its own failure, continues to produce fascinating shapes by doing so.
You have presented graffiti photography in one of your exhibition. I think there are now two groups of critics of the presence of graffiti in museums, those who consider it as a minor art, or those who feel it loses its meaning once exposed because its legitimacy came from his contextualization (urban, illegal, …) and not its aesthetics. Did you asked yourself about the legitimacy of these photos.
When I was a teenager, I was a bit of graffiti writer and wanted to play the vandal and not be an artist, besides the search for a certain style and aesthetic. Graffiti gives an intense pleasure, it’s also a game similar to auto-fiction or role-playing improvised by children.
Indeed, I find very lame to show graffiti or associated acts in an exhibition space. It does not interest me and this thirty years old debate, does not interest me either.
The graffiti photography I showed were made by young and clumsy taggers, seeking pleasure and recognation from a small community. I love seeing this basic language in its most lyric form and I found the same feelings I seeked 15 years ago. This tribute to the innocence and romanticism of the teenagehood, has ultimately little to do with graffiti.
Your work involves a number of times your own models rather to the actual landscape, as in the video « Opa-Locka Will Be Beautiful. » In your opinion what are the models or maps have more to express than the territory.
In « Opa-Locka Will Be beautiful », the models are a counterpoint to the live shooting, these two forms are complementary. In this video, it was a distancing tool which allow me to evoke the history and the past or present ambitions of this Miami suburb. They also bring narrative and staging into this documentary style video. At last orientalist architecture of Opa-Locka is inspired by the silent film background and I found important to also reconstitute a little stage on a film set and filming it with a cinematographic machinery.
The map or the model very well summarize the a territory lines of force, they allow us to embrace essential issues in a glance. At this scale we also see strong movements, communication between distant objects and their layering. From there we over-interprate the territory, it is a point of view made to say what you want and not what you would see. The models and maps are also objects of power, a strong statement, I especially think of the 3D map commissioned by Louis XIV in order to impressed the royal court of Versailles.
What are your next projects, what directions will you take in the future ?
I am making a film about an animal sculptor who works primarily for natural history museums. His job focuses on key issues related to representation, knowledge, imagination and interpretation. He works in an incredible place,speaks very well of his practice and creates beautiful shapes. I would like to linked his practice to the expert theories in various fields of research.
Can you name several artists (all categories included), who have particularly influenced you.
Mike Kelley, William Turner, Jeremy Deller, Philippe Pareno, Didier Marcel, Claude Parent, Paul Virilio, David Lynch, Michelangelo Antonioni, Andrei Tarkovsky, Jean Arp, Rodney Graham, Chantal Ackerman, William Karrel, Jean Vigo, Sven Augustijnen, Kenneth Anger, Lili Reynaud Dewar, Jordi Colomer, Mark Lewis, Hubert Robert, Nicolas Moulin.
In your opinion what are the most promising artists of your generation (opportunity to name some friends of course) ?
Ernesto Sartori, Jacques Loeuille, Yann Gerstberger, Gregory Buchert, Bérénice Merlet.