Fa­brice Hy­ber Pu­blic Works

Art Press - - ÉCOLE DES BEAUX-ARTS DE NANTES - Trans­la­tion, L-S Tor­goff

Fa­brice Hy­ber is the win­ner of a pu­blic com­mis­sion by the new École des Beauxarts de Nantes. He plans to make two pieces, one to be ins­tal­led in Nantes and the other at the French art school’s site in Mar­fa, Texas.

For Fa­brice Hy­ber, who at­ten­ded the Nantes art school, art is the most im­me­diate way to broa­den the range of the pos­si­bi­li­ties, in­ter­ve­ning in forms and be­ha­viors by mixing and mat­ching not on­ly tech­niques but al­so re­fe­rences, dis­ci­plines and skill sets, al­ways see­king the ex­cep­tion that proves the rule. His ima­gi­na­tion calls up the most di­verse themes, such as com­fort and ge­ne­tic ma­ni­pu­la­tion, the fu­ture of our spe­cies and adap­ta­tion, mi­gra­to­ry flows and the glo­ba­li­zed eco­no­my, ener­gy re­sources and im­mor­ta­li­ty, glee­ful­ly hoo­king up fields of know­ledge that sel­dom mingle, with an open­ly ad­mit­ted pro­ba­bi­li­ty of er­ror that be­comes pro­duc­tive when it goes from one field of know­ledge to ano­ther, less ex­pec­ted do­main. Hy­ber seizes the crea­tive po­ten­tial of these criss­cros­sed free as­so­cia­tions. His ex­pe­ri­ments are clear­ly ba­sed on hu­man ex­pe­rience but in the most ac­ci­den­tal form fol­lo­wing a de­duc­tive lo­gic. As a de­fro­cked scien­tist, he dis­mantles the real all the bet­ter to re­cons­truct it, ta­king apart the me­cha­nisms of things and the phy­sics of events, trans­for­ming this ac­tion in­to a de­mons­tra­tion, per­for­ma­tive if pos­sible. The two pu­blic com­mis­sion pieces plan­ned for the new Nantes art school are com­ponent parts of his ove­rall mis­sion to ab­sorb and sub­vert.


To be lo­ca­ted in the heart of a re­con­ver­ted in­dus­trial buil­ding for­mer­ly used for ship­buil­ding, Hy­ber pro­poses a flag­ship, si­mul­ta­neous­ly a ves­sel and a pas­sen­ger com­part­ment. This ae­ro­dy­na­mic, iso­tro­pic ship that can move up and down and over and un­der is a vi­sual me­ta­phor for a no­no­rien­ted ap­pre­hen­sion of things, in­vi­ting vi­si­tors to re­think the func­tio­nal uses at­tri­bu­ted to ob­jects. It’s al­so a pas­sen­ger com­part­ment in that this sculp­ture will be a re­source site where people can ex­pe­riment with the POF (Pro­to­types of Func­tio­ning Ob­jects) he conceives as pre­texts to shift the contem­pla­tive func­tion of art to more be­ha­vio­ral ap­proaches. More pre­ci­se­ly, it will be a “house of Pofs,” si­mul­ta­neous­ly a conser­va­to­ry and la­bo­ra­to­ry. Its cir­cu­lar struc­ture is ba­sed on L’Es­ca­lier sans fin (Ne­ver-en­ding stair­way, POF no. 100), and the en­semble of its confi­gu­ra­tion, in­side and out­side, de­du­ced from va­rious POF ap­pli­ca­tions (ap­proxi­ma­te­ly 160 so far). Vi­si­tors to this house will au­thor their own adap­ta­tion to this en­vi­ron­ment by means of the em­pi­ri­cal and play­ful ex­pe­rience, of­ten uns­table and un­de­fi­ned, of a ca­bin whose uses are mul­tiple and open-en­ded, a cock­pit for test flights in­to the real and its mul­tiple pos­sible im­pro­ve­ments beyond sys­tems of re­la­tions ca­li­bra­ted in ad­vance.


No­men omen, the name is an omen. The ar­tist adop­ted the pseu­do­nym Hy­ber in 2005, drop­ping the fi­nal T from his ori­gi­nal fa­mi­ly name to pro­duce “HY­BERT sans T/HY­BER San­té” (Hy­ber wi­thout the T = Hy­per-Heal­thy). This hy­per­bo­lic pa­tro­ny­mic si­gnals art’s abi­li­ty to re­sist any and all forms of re­si­gna­tion. For the Nantes school’s Mar­fa cen­ter, lo­ca­ted in the vast open spaces of the Ame­ri­can West, he chose to erect an ico­nic struc­ture that will clash migh­ti­ly with the lo­cal land­scape. Not a sus­pen­ded ves­sel this time, but a giant foun­tain do­mi­na­ting the site of the new school. The sculp­ture takes the an­thro­po­mor­phic sil­houette of a green giant, re­vi­si­ting, on a mo­nu­men­tal scale, Hy­ber’s L’Homme de Bes­sines, a sculp­ture ins­tal­led in a small town in the Poi­tou re­gion, that squirts wa­ter out of all of its ori­fices (eyes, mouth, pe­nis, etc). For Mar­fa, Hy­ber de­ci­ded to re­scale this piece, ma­king the man se­ve­ral me­ters high, ri­va­ling the fa­mous wa­ter to­wer over­loo­king the ci­ty. He will be made of a re­cent­ly pa­ten­ted spe­cial concrete ab­sor­bing part of the lo­cal soil (sand, used earth, ac­cu­mu­la­ted de­bris). This re­cy­cling is it­self a kind of res­ponse to the constraints im­po­sed by the an­thro­po­cene, in which no­thing can be was­ted and eve­ry­thing has to be reu­sed. The fi­gure will then be pain­ted green, Hy­ber’s si­gna­ture co­lor, em­ble­ma­tic of “men­tal eco­lo­gy,” ma­king it look like an alien, a trope that has par­ti­cu­lar re­so­nance in this ci­ty not far from Ros­well, where an in­cident du­ring the Cold War was la­ter said to be a case of a cra­shed UFO car­rying ex­tra­ter­res­trials. But ra­ther than an­noun­cing the threat of an alien in­va­sion, this mo­nu­ment will spray wa­ter and mist over the sur­roun­ding area and thus create an oa­sis in the de­sert, in­te­gra­ting new flo­ra and fau­na in a bio­tope open to all sorts of dod­gy contacts bet­ween spe­cies and spaces. This ico­no­clas­tic ges­ture is meant to point to both the conse­quences of the post­hu­man turn our times have ta­ken (the end of an an­thro­po­cen­tric world) and the em­pi­ri­cal so­lu­tion (the foun­tain will al­so be a re­ser­voir), au­to­no­mous re­sources fa­vo­rable for a self­ma­na­ged rein­ven­tion of the land­scape. Pas­cal Rous­seau is a pro­fes­sor of contem­po­ra­ry art his­to­ry at the Uni­ver­si­té Pa­ris I Pan­théon-Sor­bonne, spe­cia­li­zing in the his­to­ric avant-gardes and the be­gin­nings of abs­trac­tion, and the links bet­ween ima­gi­na­ries, science and tech­no­lo­gy in contem­po­ra­ry culture (twen­tieth and twen­ty-first cen­tu­ries).

Fa­brice Hy­ber Né en 1961. Vit et tra­vaille à Pa­ris Ex­po­si­tions ré­centes : 2016 Co­sa men­tale. Les ima­gi­naires de la té­lé­pa­thie dans l'art du 20e siècle, Centre Pom­pi­dou-Metz, Metz ; Ce que fait le prin­temps avec les ce­ri­siers (Pa­blo Ne­ru­da), Ga­le­rie Na­tha­lie Oba­dia, Pa­ris ; L'Homme Éponge, MUP IDF, Bon­dy/Ca­chan/Bou­lo­gneBillan­court ; La Grande ga­le­rie du foot, Grande Halle de La Villette, Pa­ris ; For an Image, Fas­ter Than Light, Yin­chuan Bien­nale, Mu­seum of Contem­po­ra­ry Art (MO­CA), Yin­chuan, Chine

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