Martial Déflacieux (translation Caryl*.Ivrisse)
The relevance and the beauty of Julien Collieux’s works are based on a singular maieutics, full of irony. It stares at the hardly describable horizon of a digressive imagination which takes shape with a careful style of delicate objects or performances. Here, a guitar cut in six pieces and (almost) unusable. There, a set of childish drawings. Julien Collieux seems to seek this graceful moment in which a certain chaos reveals temporarily a language, this moment during which, for example, the first word of the child appears.The artist usually uses semiological systems in a familiar way, like the musical notation or more generally analogical systems. Scores of internationally famous works are often used ; “Ode to joy”, “The Marseillaise”, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “The Internationale”. Those hymns are not used as such signifiers (Internationale = communist) but as musical archetypes whose construction is sometimes similar and especially reminiscent. These are compositions that one can repeat to oneself the whole day after a first listening.
Indeed, Julien Collieux’s works are like a tune hummed in spite of oneself and they can hide in memories. The visible part of Julien’s art is, to this example, a tiny dimension of a largest palimpsest offered to the viewer’s curiosity. Through the 63 sections of an animated screen, viewers will discover under the cards a memory game or under the score of the American hymn a map of the world. So much signs are the near atomic form of a system which sometimes discloses its logic, a visible part which will give way again to the chaos or more precisely to a matrix. Julien Collieux ventures into a horizon multiplying the perspective points into perpetual motions that are saved from entropy (in extremis sometimes) because of the use of logical systems. These compose sorts of paralanguages as useful then as fleeting.
The adventure must be shared or else, there is no possible language. To say that Julien Collieux’s works are collective would be denied by the artist himself. Julien Collieux would mischievously answer that, from his point of view, every work is collective. After all, there is a lot to say about the place of collective art through Julien Collieux’s reasoning. He orchestrates these performances to which the public, becoming actor, is invited. Julien Collieux’s first esthetical act would consist in a subscription, leading to the following hypothesis: no one can perceive a work with mistrust. This is an idea that can be easily widened to a political meaning or even to a humanist figure. An idealistic meaning of Julien Collieux’s work that could be kept within the limit of the necessary gregariousness making sure the performances go smoothly. Therefore, it is a new hypothesis that forms the whole ambiguity and irony of the collective action; we accept to join the projects in order to reach a purpose but maybe mainly because it seems to us non-productive.
It is probably the fragility of Julien Collieux’s objects and the integrity that he puts in the project to give them grace that bind us to a contradictory paradigm. To the exclusion of the artist orchestrator and of the viewer/actor, the object stands at the centre of Julien Collieux’s work. It may not be necessary to tell how much his works are empirically made, with as primary means as their use is often complex. Our fascination for his objects (instruments, musical scores, drawings, screen) is built up by being revealling of a discursive imagination, full of vitality.
Julien Collieux’s work shines new light through old windows. He takes the ordinary, the everyday and transforms it into something poetical. In his hands, the barrel-organ’s sheets of holey paper, the music box’s simplistic mechanism and even the classical format A4 are stripped of their limitations and are imbued with new life. In little over one century ‘canned’ music has gone from the music box to MP3; the image from A4 to pixels and d.p.i. That these are issues fuelling this young Frenchman’s work is evident in his work. But Collieux does not remain alone in all this. His installations, as well as his photographs directly involve his audience. While in the former his family, friends and gallery-goers are brought into direct contact with his work through active participation in the realisation process, the latter engages the viewer through an unsuspected familiarity.
Purposefully subverting all classical standard dimensions, Collieux’s work is –amongst other things– an ode to the A4. There is no special hi-tech procedure needed to print his photographs: an ordinary PC and printer suffice. Every A4-page is as necessary as the next, and since each is the same size there is no hierarchy. In his photographs these are pieced together on a simple grid to make one huge image. While from a distance the edges of each A4 are not immediately visible, the simplicity of the production method is never hidden from the viewer. He has successfully demystified the surface of the image; and in an honest attempt to affect the spectator, has left these over-sized photographic images without the gloss that nowadays turns so much lack-lustre photography into art. Ironically, it is precisely this nanometre-thick covering, which lends a shine that shrouds the image, conceals, hides the truth as unconcealment and attracts magpies. Since dimensions can also estrange and distract the viewer, Collieux chooses the A4, which alone or in combination, resonates a deep sense of familiarity: we do not feel overwhelmed, but quietly moved by the human-figures-turned-persons.
Image we represent to our vision are always whole. We see the big picture. Similarly, in his event-installations single moments (e.g. tones) are grasped and pieced together by consciousness in an effort to ‘make sense’ of what we perceive (e.g. hear). It is an act driven by the familiarity of situations, hymns or anthems and always transmitted through the movement of people.