The Consum (ma)/(p) tion of signs
Now that the death knell has sounded for our societies that are dedicated to production and mass consumption (where ecological threats force us to rethink the basis of our dreams of abundance), it is no longer only necessary to change our consumption habits, but it has also become vital to overthrow the system of signs that supports this economy.
The Consum (ma)/(p) tion of signs
“The revolution is everywhere an exchange crops up that shatters the finality of the models, the mediation of the code and the consecutive cycle of value. For the secret of a social parole, of a revolution, is also the anagrammatic dispersal of the instance of power, the rigorous volatilization of every transcendent social instance. (...) The revolution is symbolic or it is not a revolution at all.” Jean Baudrillard
Now that the death knell has sounded for our societies that are dedicated to production and mass consumption (where ecological threats force us to rethink the basis of our dreams of abundance), it is no longer only necessary to change our consumption habits, but it has also become vital to overthrow the system of signs that supports this economy. For, if it is so easy to see that waste material accumulates so rampantly over the entire surface of our planet, it is also important to understand that the world of advertising signs that surrounds us, each day feeding us their slogans, without end, produces ever-growing quantities of symbolic waste. Advertising is the discharge of signs, the progressive sedimentation of their meaning: the guardian of their value.
However, facing the rising waters of propaganda (full of paralyzed floating signifiers), Anne Brunet and Guillaume Josué are true guerrillas. Deconstructing, with humor not devoid of poetry, the mechanisms underlying the usual market advertising (overcoding an image with a slogan, a symbol brought to its commercialized demise), these artists give back to their viewer the possibility to freely associate an image with a text, a symbol to its meaning, and, perhaps most profoundly, a signified (a concept) to a signifier (a form).
Though, rather than simply contenting ourselves through abstractly describing the mechanism underlying their work, let’s try to look at one piece at random, and understand how it functions.
In a work such as “Faire du ciel le plus bel endroit de la terre” (“Making the sky the best place on earth”), what is happening exactly? To find out, we must first remark that the title is none other than an advertising slogan for Air France. In other words, before being read as a somewhat poetic phrase (which is not unlike the description of the Christian “paradise”), the average viewer cannot help but have in mind that we are trying to sell her something. Then, raising her eyes to the image itself, the viewer would perhaps begin to smile in seeing that instead of the luxurious airplane she expects to see, is the image of Astro Boy (the little robot), carrying on his shoulders Kiki the Monkey, and Patrick (the gentle starfish, and best friend of SpongeBob SquarePants) flying in the company of a winged dragon (a symbol of Asia, home to Astro Boy).
In other words, Anne Brunet and Guillaume Josué are not only having fun by appropriating a slogan and giving it an “offset” illustration, but—uniting several semiotic codes in a single imaginary space—they are able to make the superheroes of their childhoods the figures of a new mythology whose ambition (and critical range) is precisely for giving a new meaning to that which, to them, was solely the property of an airline or a Manga production company.
Translation: Cassandra Katsiaficas
Galerie Galerie 13
Tout doit disparaître, Anne Brunet & Guillaume Josué
du 7 Octobre 2011 au 5 Novembre 2011
36 rue du Mont Thabor 75001 Pariswww.galerie13jm.com