Behind the fourth wall with KMB artist Fran├žois Mazabraud

The French installation artist, participating in the upcoming Biennale, gives Art Talk

Kochi, Sept 7: The subtle interstices between urban realities and fiction inform François Mazabraud art. In juxtaposing symbols, temporalities and spaces, he invites viewers through the back door into this ‘between space’ to reconsider the contours of normality.

The French installation artist embraces a broad spectrum of performances and forms – the abundance reflecting the multiplicity of his chosen concern. Mazabraud builds objects, invents surfaces, relays sounds and invades the public space, among other interventions, to inject fiction into the real.

“When exploring the interval between reality and fiction, I pose the problem to myself about how to inspire emotion from artwork while asking questions of both my viewers and of the various formal socio-political issues that are my concern,” said Mazabraud.

Mazabraud, selected to participate in the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), was speaking at an ‘Art Talk’ hosted by the Kochi Biennale Foundation at BTH in Ernakulam on Wednesday.

Titled ‘Inside the 4th wall’, the evening discussion offered insights into his thinking and process, his wanderings in Kochi and a preview of what to expect at KMB’16, which runs from December 12 to March 29 next year. The event was supported by the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA).

In creating site-specific participatory scenographies that interview as well as interact with viewers, Mazabraud attempts to close the distance – the fourth wall – between art and viewer. The intent is to distort perceptions of how things appear in relation to space.

“My premise is to explore how people pay attention to art. My work may seem straightforward, but small details of a work can lead to other interpretations and meanings. I make small discrete works that are easy to miss because I want the attention of the audience,” he said.

An example is his ongoing project ‘Footnotes’, which has turned Paris into an open book through an intricate network of literature references.

“Starting in 2012, I have created a system of 26 easy-to-miss footnotes inscribed on walls around Paris linking the City of Light to fiction about it. When I reach 100 footnotes, I will make a book of photographs with the city’s walls for pages and its streets the chapters,” Mazabraud said.

Through such multi-form interventions, Mazabraud crosses hierarchies and thresholds to survey the diversion of objects and signs and relay that understanding to viewers.

Come December, Kochi will experience much the same as the artist trains his sharp eye on the city at India’s only Biennale. 

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