Exhibition: “Custom Cars Culture”, UncleBrother, Hancock (NY), 2023


“PROTOTYPES” is the title of my work for the exhibition “Customs Cars Cultures” at ‘Uncle Brothers’ in Hancock. “PROTOTYPES” wants to give form to the desire to be ‘up to date’ or ‘turned-on’, yet without being able to afford it: “I want an e-car too, but don’t have the money – therefore I transform my old car to make it look like one”. The two cars presented here express that desire and lack of resources to make it become reality. The only way to give a form to this desire is by simulating, by faking, and by thinking about this desire. What interests me is to understand this desire and lack of resources the other way around: logically, a prototype shows the future, points to the coming and would draw an utopia. Here, the nature of such a construction is deviated, the work “PROTOTYPES”, designates a fallen utopia, a deception, a dystopia.

“PROTOTYPES” reflects my artist-thinking, it reflects my will, my problem and my competence to give form to this position. What I want, is to insist on simplicity and on a reduction of materials to using only cardboard, tape, photocopies and felt pen. I love working with these materials because they carry a dimension of universality, of inclusion, of non-intimidation, of precariousness and also an expression of self-irony. “PROTOTYPES” is about expressing ones own failures and lacks, instead of making jokes about the other’s weakness. Made with joy and confidence, “PROTOTYPES” is pure assertion, in the form of three-dimensional collages. I think that a collage is the right medium for finding and giving form to a dystopian utopia. A collage affirms an impulse to change, to progress, to transform – in this case – two gasoline powered cars from the mid-2000s (a blue/green Volkswagen “Jetta” and a red Ford “Focus”) into poorly, silly, quickly made electric cars.

I truly love making collages because a collage owns the power to implicate the other immediately, and because it resist consumption – thus, an e-car is a sign of consumption too. Something constitutive and so important about collage is its noncompliance, it never completely ‘fits’ and is never completely adequate, as these “PROTOTYPES” works. A collage contains an ‘anarchical’ part and a ‘sacred’ part. The ‘anarchical’ part comes from its unsubmissiveness and non-respect of rules. The ‘sacred’ part comes from the grace needed for giving form to the different and divergent dynamics – the desire of resources and lack of capacities – that are constitutive of a collage. There is always a crack, a crevice, a hole, and an abyss in a collage, but therefore – in the very end – there can be room for truth.

“PROTOTYPES” wants to assert truth, not the truth about something – an information, a fact, an actuality – but truth as such. Truth not as ‘holy cow’ but truth as the acceptance of precariousness, as a value. The cardboard items taped on the inside and outside of the cars assert the will to accept the necessary jump into another dimension, another age, while manifesting a critical and lucid signal that this will not be enough in order to make the change. The real change, the progress and transformation come from accepting the precarious. To me there can only be a future if there is an acceptance of precariousness. Precariousness is what allows mystery, resistance, grace, and freedom – which are its values. Precariousness is the price to pay if – as I really believe – the unguaranteed, the unstable, the fragile, the uncertain make sense today. The sense of how life, our life, with its difficulties, its non-resolved problems, but also with all its beauty and all its gifts, should be fulfilled.

TH. Aubervilliers, Summer, 2023