Contemporary art publications — Visual artists in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France


created September 07 2017

Texts below :

  • Text by Judicaël Lavrador
  • Text by Marie Bechetoille, 2015
  • Line of Buoyancy, Judicaël Lavrador, 2014

Text by Judicaël Lavrador
Translated by Lucy Pons


“Maxime Lamarche applies manual and DIY intelligence to the most spectacular aspect of entertainment: cinema, and the objects that it depicts and raises to the rank of mythical objects. Among these, the car, which the artist, before Firebird, had already worked on with Midnightswim (2012), which consisted in (half) a Ford floating in a pool of the Jardin des Plantes on the occasion of the event Voyage à Nantes. It represents a kind of wreck of the automotive industry, slowly going under while drawing its archetypal image from a long-lost golden age of cinema. Maxime Lamarche would use this car again in another piece: Soft Serve Boat (2013) is a hybrid, a speedboat reconstructed from the other half-body of the Ford. The piece floated (on dry dock) on the industrial past of the Durolle Valley in Thiers where it was presented in 2013, linking the proud working-class nostalgia of the Creux de l'Enfer brownfield with its future to come. Let us also mention another piece, permanently exhibited in Saint-Etienne, Sauna-Malibu (2013), which (partly) trivialises the healthy lifestyle of the West Coast. The installation consists in a fully functional sauna built in a small cedar wood cabin that mimics the architecture of Californian lifeguard huts. The stove that heats it is powered by a thundering diesel motor – again, part of the wrecked car. The view from inside the cabin overlooks the city. The piece functions as a reversal of viewpoints and of the notion of exoticism, but also serves a double purpose: in addition to acting as a sauna, it also supports the roof of the exhibition space, the Greenhouse association.”

Text by Marie Bechetoille, 2015

Translation by John Tittensor

In Rendez-Vous, Jeune création internationale / Biennale de Lyon 2015, co-edition Institut d'art contemporain, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes, Musée d'Art Contemporain, Lyon, École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Lyon

Maxime Lamarche's work contains frequent references to the cinema, but he is just as interested in content as in the effects that create illusions. His sculptures and installations take their inspiration from a reality which they rechannel fictionally for critical purposes. Maxime Lamarche constructs and deconstructs vehicles–cars (Midnightswim), boats (The Calm after the Storm) or a blend of the two (Soft Serve Boat)–which he often presents out of context and as wrecks. His displays of these conveyances/ sculptures give rise to narratives of wittily rigged fiascos. In the sculpture Problem Is It's Got Wings, But No Propellers a motorcycle engine from the film Top Gun generates its own lighting. Maxime Lamarche also proposes more architectural structures, among them a sauna (Sauna-Malibu), a cabin (Let's Walk on the Roofs) and a Bivouac. These site-specific installations are responses to their exhibition venues and generate other narratives by interrogating spaces that are simultaneously real and symbolic.

For Rendez-Vous 15 exhibition, Maxime Lamarche is presenting a sculpture: a sailing boat whose hull has been cut up then reassembled with its components wedged apart. The process triggers a displacement: the leisure craft seems to be trying to morph into a traditional Asian junk. In the space it bends, finding a precarious balance on its keel and leaving its abandoned, ruinous inner cabin visible through the hull. In this work Maxime Lamarche pursues his sculptural explorations by creating a new disaster scenario

Line of Buoyancy, Judicaël Lavrador, 2014

Translation by Anna Knight

In Les sirènes chantent toujours faux, Galeries Nomades2014, Institut d'art contemporain, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes, Semaine 50.14, Supplément vol. XV, Analogues, Arles

The dinghy is waterlogged and it won't be able to float again in a hurry. The water constantly surging in keeps sinking it and the large hole pierced in its hull seems to be a bottomless pit that all the oceans of the world are rushing into, over and over. A shipwreck is solitary. It keeps filling itself and lapping up the same blackish water. This is true of individuals struck by misfortune and depression.
It is also true of this dinghy that is beyond saving. Even though, we must admit, its situation is not worsening – it is stagnating. The precarious position of the sculpture (Le calme après la tempête) stages this: partly tipped on its side, it has not entirely surrendered and finds a point of balance to straighten up its proud prow. Succumbing completely is out of the question, instead, the disaster is counterbalanced by a hint of pride, or by a force and physical principles, even mechanical ones.

Bolting, fitting, soldering, sanding, joining: for each of his works, Maxime Lamarche is on the job, donning workman's dungarees in his workshop at the foot of the Pilat ranges. Such an act is not anodyne: it is through the intelligence of the hand that the young artist tackles the world of ideas. From this technical knowhow, he creates a form of resistance to the weight of the world, to the throes of chaos and the pressure of cultural standards. His work takes the form of well-used machines that dismantle the clichés of a charmed life: glory, success, and exoticism are bumped off the road in Maxime Lamarche's work. And there, in the depths of the hold, we see how we can get by. His works strive to uphold a precarious balance between drowning and emergency, between panic and self-control, success and failure, dead calm and storm, day and night.

Thus, on this tenuous line of buoyancy, a whole row of bachelor machines is also balanced – incarnations of industrial and cultural shipwrecks. A Ford partly immersed in the Saône, Midnightswim, inspired by a scene from Hitchcock's film Psycho, represents a kind of raft of cinema, a cultural industry whose finest hours are a thing of the past, and also a kind of raft of the automobile industry, which goes under in times of crisis. It is also the other part of the same car that was used for Soft Serve Boat. With its bodywork disassembled, the car is recycled into a speedboat floating (in a dry dock) in the industrial past of the valley of Durolle, in Thiers, where it was exhibited with a dignified working-class nostalgia, and with the ambition of conjugating the future into a future perfect, since it presented all the signs of the (now obsolete) futurist inventiveness of a James Bond vehicle. Another machine, Sauna-Malibu, (partly) trivialises the healthy spirit of the West Coast. It is a genuine, sculpted sauna, in a little cedar shack (cut in the Pilat) resembling the cabins of lifeguards that watch over Californian beaches. A mirage of Californian exoticism and a mirage of the buoy to cling to... Reaffirmed in these sculptures hung on the wall: the Méduses, copies of the lifebuoys of Malibu lifeguards, translucent on the surface, with the artificial and elastic consistency of silicone, they themselves give way under their own weight and seem to subside under that of their responsibilities...

However, these “mermaids”, with powers of attraction as formidable as they are pathetic, these “mermaids” that – according to the title – whistle and sing off key, over our heads and over Maxime Lamarche's exhibition, also know how to make their voices heard in real life. Advertising, cinema, and television know how to foster awareness. Also, the handmade posters, flyers, signs, or neon lights are an integral part of the artist's work. All the more so in that, for him, they are not only real communication tools, but also artworks that are duly framed and exhibited. In this way, he completes the circle from production to exhibition, via publicising; Maxime Lamarche considers every phase as a single seamless chain of production. From making, to presenting and publicising, from the secondary to the tertiary sector, there are no longer any breaks. However, one work escapes from this exposure demanded by the cultural industries: the railing attached to the staircase for the duration of the exhibition, that the spectators hold in the usual manner, and that thus assumes its place almost discreetly among the artworks. This tailor-made banister is finely crafted according to traditional techniques, thus somehow escaping from the footlights of the exhibition, while nonetheless taking on its full weight (Du vent dans les voiles... L'orage s'annonce). It also counterbalances the submerged artworks through its inherent ability to ascend.