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Olivier Bardin & Melik Ohanian

FRAC • Languedoc-Roussillon Montpellier  •  France [FR]

For this year’s first exhibition, the Frac is showing the work of two artists, both members of the new generation: Olivier Bardin and Mélik Ohanian. Their respective approaches are concerned with the place of the onlooker and the status of the image. However, these issues do not involve relational aesthetics but rather the consequences of communicational variants, media, and so on, on our perceptions of space and time.
They come up with spaces for living in, either alone or with others. In this context, accommodating onlookers renders the matter of symbolic and concrete appropriation, be it of places, art forms or human relations, possible and renewable.

Olivier Bardin deals with space and forces onlookers to stoop in order to make their way into a minimal room. Dazzled to begin with by the light of the video projector, visitors tend to turn round and face newcomers and a screen. The film being shown is an interview on a TV studio set of Bruno Racine (1) by a child of about ten, about matters of strategy and the current international situation. This is not a class but a meeting between two people who don’t have the same things at stake. Several versions follow one another, with neither beginning nor end.
They have been made with the help of a computer programme (2). This software allocates to the keys conversational fragments against a backdrop formed by images of the filming.
The people chosen by the artist, on the basis of different social, economic and cultural criteria, went ahead individually with a representative montage of their function. The final presentation of the various interpretations reveals at once the social determinism, recurrent postures and certain facets of the mental structure of the participants–the paranoid journalist, the citizen student, the star cop, for example.

The staging of the exchanges highlights the artifice of all words as well as the wealth of laws of condensation and displacement, metaphor and metonymy in the construction of each one and in each communication test.
Mélik Ohanian, for his part, presents an installation in the form of futuristic, user-friendly urban fixtures, placing the onlookers opposite a screen, on either side of it. Pictures of the ground on Mars taken by the Viking observation satellite and available on the Internet, are put together to give the illusion of a broad sweeping view of the planet’s surface. This is a paradox that makes the remotest of places become accessible from your own home. The film is punctuated by several tracking shots, as it is by the crackling of incrustations which file past, tone over tone, like illegible subtitles.
A special device enables onlookers to press « Pause », thus creating extensions to the film by the subjective inclusion of fragments of poetic-cum-philosophical text. This manipulation by viewers is almost akin to the previous manipulation by the artist, an interplay of combinations based on a rough capture of reality. The film contrasts with the photographic status of the imagery, an intuition about time, unalterable form filled by changes. The shimmering abstraction beckons to us to travel; everyone can thus reinstate snippets of narrative, and imagine the conquest of Mars. In the end of the day, inhabiting is constructing your time in space and taking aesthetics not for a mere exhibition, but as a transposition for life.
Text: Céline Mélissent
Translated by Simon Pleasance

Artists : Olivier Bardin, Melik Ohanian

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