What we want to propose is that world be seen differently, from another point of view, but we have to find the means of showing it in a different way.
We artists always want to make art. The problem is how to produce it For many years, with Woulways and with D/A/C and now with the project of the school for art directors that I am setting up in Nantes, I have chosen to give an answer to these needs. This encounter today was thought up firstly in order for us to relate among ourselves and to relate our projects.
In order to produce a new work of art a new behaviour is needed. I think that we are in a phase in which behaviours are extremely diversified. The world is full of different phenomena, art too.
In the eighties I didn’t have a lot of capital and I needed to produce works and in order to do this I had to approach businesses. Very quickly I realised that beyond sponsoring there were other possibilities. In 1989, while working on a large piece involving 22 tonnes of Marseille soap, I had my first experience of collaboration. I discovered that it was possible to create a partnership with companies, a multiple exchange: raw materials and savoir faire in exchange for thought, but also an exchange of communication favouring the company as well as its internal and social communication. Going back to Marseille soap: nowadays it is well known, but in those days within businesses it was not valued at all. Yet in the moment that it had been “touched” by an artist, things changed and even the factory workers felt that their work had become more important.
Following that, I wanted to intensify this activity by creating partnerships with various companies. In 1994 I personally created a company named U.R that has done many projects with artists and I formed a network, Woulways, with Zerynthia, with the Pistoletto foundation and other European partners, a network for producers of works of art that existed until 2005.
Now I have the opportunity of developing all this in a school for art directors, a structure that trains youngsters both to realise works for artists and to create flowing internal communication within businesses. A new profession.
For more than 20 years I have been working with companies and with producers. At the time I needed material and money for a project, the biggest soap in the world. The French government at the end of the nineties was in a critical economical situation. Less and less money was available for culture. So I decided to get directly in touch with the producers. Regarding the soap project, I made an effort and the company of Marseille soap made an effort and the two efforts made the art piece possible.
Today my work is mostly dedicated to theoretical experiments. In this moment I am involved with the creation of a school for artists. My aim is to teach them how to find producers and how to realize work together with producers. Therefore I am trying to find more links with producers not only in order to realize objects but also to create new ideas, new possibilities. I will certainly do a project with Rivellini; it’s nice to start something new.
When, 24 years ago, I wanted to make a self-portrait of my work, I make the biggest soap in the world. Nobody wanted to do that, so I asked a soap Company in Marseille for support and they gave me 22 tons of soap. To my own surprise, this made sense also for the communication of the Company because it did something very active inside the Company, it became something very social.
They were involved in art without any market dealings. After that I decided to make my own art production company, this was in 94. At the same time I made the HYBERMARKET in the Museum of Modern Art of Paris. I transformed the Museum into a supermarket. After that I did a lot of things with companies and than I met Dora and Mario. We decided to set up a network – the name was Woolways – with Michelangelo Pistoletto and other artists and friends. We organized this network to produce art, to create a link between artists and companies. At the beginning it was not so easy to do because between art and production there is a big distance. After some years some collectors who were also producers began to change a little bit.
The idea of art connected to production became something more effective and production became a part of the work of art. Now with D/A/C and with all these actions we are proceeding. The problem is not to control things but rather to allow them to start. What we are doing is always to motivate somebody else to do something.
In France in the 80s we had a lot of public money for art from the Ministry of Culture. At the beginning of the 90s, when I started with my work the money was less and I wanted more. So I asked for money by going directly to the companies. I also wanted to produce something inside the companies. After some years it was clear to me that it was not only about doing art pieces but producing art with people that were involved in the production.
I wanted to work not only with collectors or museum people, but to produce art with people who work in the companies and to involve them. It became an exchange of competences which means also the creation of a vocabulary. This fact changes a little bit the scale of art. Today I don’t need to make the world’s biggest soap, I want to make the soap together with the people producing soap.
It’s happening less in my atelier. I started to think that I wanted to do something that can be done by everybody.
It depends. There are times that I already have a project and I find companies and subsequently adopt their materials and production processes. But other times we end up being able to invent something together. For example, the Italian entrepreneur, Roberto Crivellini – who came to me with Mario and Dora over a year ago – had a big problem with his textile company. He wanted to restructure it in order to bring it out if its impasse.
I simply asked him to talk to me about his life and about himself. He told me about his father who made shoes following the tradition of his region, Friuli. I suggested that he pick up on that, but create a series of shoes for just one foot: the UNA. You can see them in those display cases down there. We therefore invented something and developed it. It was above all a chance for him to become aware of his own situation and create a new life.
For me, in that case, it allowed me to invent something as there was nothing to begin with. Today, given that on average we have reached the age of 90, we all have at least two lives. We have to adapt to this circumstance, we have to deal with it.
Regarding my personal history, starting with the 1991 Lyon Biennale, the intention was that of presenting a collection of open ideas. That was an exceptional moment. The “Giant Soap” I had created had been around all the supermarkets in Europe: in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Holland, Germany. It was always presented in the car parks. We would place a small advert in the local newspapers and there were always hundreds of people awaiting the arrival of the “Soap” in a big white truck carrying that 22 tons of soap.
The truck wasn’t very pretty and in fact often the people were rather disappointed. Really my idea was to show that it was not the form that was important but the matter itself. I would later work again with supermarkets for different projects and then I exhibited the HYBERMARCHE’ at the ARC, turning the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris into a supermarket. I wanted to show that nothing is definitive and that every time the experience of the artwork is new.
This creates a form of conduct. We can have works of art that are not only to be looked at, but with which we can share something. Even a virtual piece can be a work of art. It just need to be valued.