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P.-O. Rollin in Magazin (En)

Pierre-Olivier Rollin in the magazine “Magasin” (oct.- dec. 2002)

– excerpt-

(…) Michel Couturier has chosen, for his coming project, urban billposting. In concrete terms, posters (bus shelter format) conceived by the artist are placed in advertising sites in several large cities.

Michel Couturier’s posters are taken from one of his film projects knowingly incompleted. This one would be a remake of De la Nuée g la Résistance , by the French film-makers Jean-Marie Straub and Danielle Huillet after two texts by the ltalian writer Cesare Pavese ( Dialogues with Leucò and The Moon and the Bonfires ). All possible steps are taken to effectively produce the film by nevertheless leaving its final production in permanent abeyance. The preparatory elements take, in this case, the form of works: researching locations, writing the scenario, doing the casting, and the photographs are considered as the stages of the artist’s progression.

The chosen film set is that of the shopping centres that punctuate the periphery of cities. These places, that are more and more developped, are imitations of city-centres, reproduced according to their most ancient forms, and therefore most commonly accepted. Privately owned, they mimic public places, but eliminate all that the notion of the public sphere intends of individual liberties, of dialogue and of latent or frontal confrontations, to the benefit of an authoritarian economic model.

The posters are thus taken from images of this film in abeyance. Vague, imprecise, at times portraying characters lost in the decor, the posters are accompanied by bits of sentences, extracted from the original text that presents two mythological characters: Nuée, the nymph, and Ixion, the warrior Their dialogue deals with, taking the form of a mythical story, the relations that man has to the world, including the social and class relations that are always conflicting. In this way, giving up the sacrosanct principle of communication that advocates a redundancy between the text and the image, Michel Couturier clouds the issue, obligating the observer to make an effort in interpretating, or on the contrary, allowing his imagination ta lose itself in the elements of an imprecise message. Far from demagogic slogans or shock sentences appended to strong images, as traditionally seen on these advertising sites, the artist suggests an imaginative drift, carrying a critical charge. Different interpretations and divers levels of understanding are generated while the absolute text-image gap delivers a sort of libertarian poetic space.

Translation by A. Bellavita