SYLVIE ARLAUD & OTTO MUEHL
THE HUMAN FACTOR
Jan 29 - March 13
Mein Kampf I, 2015
Magazine-page (shredded), on acrylic glass-plate in wooden-frame.
21 x 30 cm
Source: Filmstill, "The Great Dictator", by Charlie Chaplin 1940,
Charlie Chaplin Archives and Taschen editions, Spring-Summer 2015
@Sylvie Arlaud, 2016
Installation view „The Human Factor“, Viennacontemporary 2015.
Sources: Two children chairs, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
(USSR-Design of the 45-50ies)
& Erste Hilfe (shredded-book), Lehrbuch des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes, 1941
& Mein Kampf accompagné de commentaires (shredded-book),
par E.L. Michel, Paris 1938
& Kochen mit einer Mark (shredded-book), Dachau editions 1916/1929
Installation, Vienna, 9.2015, mixed media, 55 x 48 x 45 cm.
@Sylvie Arlaud, 2015/16
Political Objets Trouvés
of the early twenty-one century
Since 2011, Sylvie Arlaud has been increasingly mixing various media, involving collage, assemblage, installation, and photo-performance. In her series Sensual Abstraction (2011) and Feminine (2012), she undertook a very sensitive and humorous introspection of her feminine identity, introducing an autobiographic approach and some strong feminist aspects to her work.
This included work on photo reproductions from material actions by Otto Muehl in the 60s, a
sexual education book from France in the 70s, and a current retrospective photographic volume
by Jeanloup Sieff.
In contrast to these two previous series, in The Human Factor she reduces every aesthetic intervention and focuses on historical investigations. Orchestrating some fragments of controversial realities put in an artistic context, she creates political objet trouvés (found objects).
The title of Sylvie Arlaud´s new eries refers to Graham Greene´s 1978 novel. The story of the book takes place in the context of the Cold War. Being a vehicle for human doubts — between professional duty and human responsibility, conscience and setting aside — it describes a world characterized by a culture of secrecy and manipulation, where people are permanently confronted with disloyalty and the precariousness of peace. It is obvious that the choice of this literary work is not merely a coincidence.
The book is not only very applicable to our present time, it also makes some generally applicable statements about human behaviour and power structures. Above all, it doesn’t damn the individuals, but instead the deprivation of liberty in human societies.
In this way it corresponds perfectly with recurring themes in
Sylvie Arlaud´s work, strongly characterized by the mindset of the
Age of Enlightenment.
In The Human Factor, Sylvie Arlaud takes an investigative approach, her artistic process approximating a journalistic strategy. For her collage-assemblages, the artist selects original images and texts from original documents, which she applies in original or reproduction on paper or transparent foils. All of her materials are literary finds possessing an intrinsically significant symbolic meaning.
After their montage, they reach a much more emotionally charged
content with a stronger force of expression. Giving us indications
about some politically charged backgrounds, they emerge to their
objective, historical veracities with a provocative value whose
relevance is not limited temporally.
Furthermore, as an inherent part of her artistic process and product, she meticulously researches and
mentions every source of the utilized and exhibited documents, which then acts as a form of knowledge transfer that her historical résumés may require. On an interactive level, she exhibits all the associated literature, allowing observers to inform themselves about her chosen themes.
Notions of transparency and freedom of expression also get symbolized. She uses transparent materials such as foils, and mounts her works on transparent acrylic glass or glass plates. She installs everything into vitrines or wooden frames without backgrounds. In this way the works
seem to hang free and the background pages can also give important hints regarding contexts.
After conceiving her collages, she allows inspiration to introduce a sculptural level to her installations. Recycling literary remnants, she installs them together with carefully selected
familiar objects (usually old-fashioned and highly symbolic), which maintain a relationship to
the overall content. Complementary to her more sober and intellectual collage-assemblages, her sculptural installations
elicit strong feelings, such as facing an "Autodafé", entering an area after bomb attacks or an earthquake, or simply entering the flat of a chaotic and intellectual peace activist...
Sylvie Arlaud´s work may not be characterized in a way that reduces it to political art with elements
of visual art, literature, and sculpture. It is a manifest in itself. It is about freedom of expression and
liberty, ephemerality and manipulability of information, the fragility of knowledge and the fragility
of life. And it bases on her thirst for truth that guides her quest for truth.
*The series "The Human Factor" is an homage to the artist Mark Lombardi, (1951-2000) and a
reference to his highly explosive sociograms.
Sylvie Arlaud, February/March 2016
& Ambacher Contemporary Munich-Paris