Alexandre Lavet, I would prefer not to
Using a diversity of operational modes, Alexandre Lavet reflects on the perception of the artwork and the exhibition space. In its specific function, the exhibition space is a key element to his work. Whether they are photographs, installations or sculptures, Alexandre Lavet’s subtle interventions are an invitation to contemplate the exhibition space while questioning the artwork and the role of the space they fit into.
For example, the ongoing series Vides (Empty) presented in the gallery in November 2016 is composed of exhibition pictures taken from the Internet and from which the works have been digitally erased. Taking advantage of the absence of works, Alexandre Lavet switches roles by highlighting the autonomy of the “White Cube” traditionally characterized by a forced neutrality serving the artworks, to sublimate not only its function but also its “aesthetic” potential. In the series Les Oubliés (The forgotten), a corpus of objects of various forms the artist scatters around the space, the works echo ordinary or minor details encountered in exhibition spaces. Once spotted, they question the spectator by offering a new perspective on the details and stories of the place they visit.
The titles of his works show a strong connexion to language, as the one of the present exhibition also reminds us. For this project, Alexandre Lavet borrows Herman Melville’s famous line “I would prefer not to” claimed by Bartleby, protagonist of the 1953 eponym short story. The author of the most famous Moby Dick stages a clerk and his partner in charge of copying acts in a Wall Street firm. Over time this conscientious and dedicated employee reveals another side of his personality, replying one day to his boss asking him to collate a document “I would prefer not to”. This line will then constantly come back from him towards any form of suggestion, destroying any possibility to build a relationship between power and will. An ambiguous formula, because it doesn’t force a refusal, a pure and simple “no”, but leaves the possibility of yes and no. For Philippe Jaworski, “Bartleby is the wonderful mystery of a speech that at the same time almost says yes and almost says no”.
Transposed for the exhibition, it could symbolically make reference to the gallerist’s and the visitors’ expectations towards today’s artists who are supposed to appropriate the exhibition space with their interventions. “I would prefer not to” opens up a double reading, between the apparent denial to make artwork and the presence of a form extolling the idea of rest and procrastination as a creative outcome.
What if this “carte blanche” revealed itself to be, with a bit of mockery, a praise to idleness in Bertrand Russel’s way or in its original meaning of the latin otium lauded by Seneca? The British philosopher disputes the unreasonable cult of man brought to always work more, which he extols to put an end to in order to dedicate more time to hobbies. The Stoic view, on the other hand, undertakes an apologia of rest and contemplation to allow us to be useful to others by putting ourselves in capacity of being so. These philosophical premises, joined with the committed respect of an economy of means aiming to always value idea over execution, give us a preview of Alexandre Lavet’s proposal for the second PBProject edition.
Alexandre Lavet (born in 1988 in Clermont-Ferrand) lives and works in Brussels. He graduated from the ESACM, Clermont-Ferrand and represented by gallery Dürst Britt & Mayhew. His recent exhibitions include “La Cigarette n’a pas le même goût au soleil”, Dürst Britt & Mayhew, La Haye (2016), “Déformation professionnelle», Galerie Paris-Beijing, Paris (2016) «Run Run Run» with Clovis XV, Villa Arson, Nice (2016). In September 2018, he will be presenting a solo show in the Art Center La Passerelle in Brest.