“Things first need to apart from each other in order for them then to be together with each other.”* This truism worthy of Lao Tseu or one of his gainsayers in fact speaks very accurately of connections and their conditions of existence. With Alain Bublex, the joining of distinct elements is done without illusionism, but with clear recognition of what distinguishes them. What happens when the artist integrates the emblematic Mount Fuji into “ordinary” photographic landscapes? It works well for them both! The strange link achieved here results from a double redefinition of the landscape. Mount Fuji is designated as an icon, as an archetype, for its vague evocative power. Even when crudely sketched, its presence transforms any patch of land by carrying it into the realm of dream, by pushing back its horizon. But Mount Fuji is also decontextualised and itself redefined by each new site that Alain Bublex “plugs” it into. This new exhibition Alain Bublex is all about a general redefinition of the real, and of Bublex’s earlier works as portions of this real. In other words, it’s the same and it’s different. Or, to put it another way, it will feature displays taken from his other exhibitions at Galerie Vallois. It is, then, an exhibition of exhibitions. Some pieces have been recreated, but with omissions and additions, and others are represented by big vectorial drawings based on photographs. The exhibition du jour is redefined by the ones that preceded it, and vice versa. More importantly, some of the works have become photos and some of the photos have been replaced by drawings evoking them, which are present in their proper place. Monts Fuji & autres Ponts (Mounts Fuji and Other Bridges) emphasises equivalence. In an ordinary landscape, it’s much of a muchness whether you add a remarkable mountain or a bridge: both perform the same role. A photograph from the Buy Steel series or its substitute in the form of a vectorial drawing, it’s all the same thing. One represents the other. They are equivalent while not identical. Both share visual power, both promote steel. Another thing they have in common is humour. Or again, the grating effect of a non-consensual posture: buy steel because industrial landscapes need to be conserved, too! And so it hardly matters if the work drifts, it is already promotional “by its very nature.” An Aérofiat will now be evoked only by name in a photograph serving as an advertising image. Self-referentiality is not at all conceptual here, but aims to put ongoing projects back on the workbench and increase the variety of ways in which the work is instantiated. Alain Bublex multiplies substitutes and covers, joyfully ignoring issues of their authority as original works. The work and display, themselves substitutes for works and displays, are rendered fragile by their uncertain status. For, to repeat, with Bublex what really counts is much more the ongoing dynamics (processes) than the search for culmination or rest. And then, in order for things to be together with each other in the work, things and works first need to have been apart from each other.
* Georg Simmel, « Pont et porte » in La Tragédie de la culture et autres essais, 1909, tr. fr. Paris, Rivages, 1988.