Installation view, Valentin Carron, Rellik, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Löwenbräu Areal, Zurich, 2005
Galerie Eva Presenhuber is pleased to announce its first show of works by young Swiss artist Valentin Carron.
Valentin Carron's work probes the questions surrounding the construction of tradition and identity in a globalized, consumption-oriented society. By selecting symbolically charged objects and reformulating them in a humorous way, he exposes their authenticity as a construction. The symbol-laden objects he uses are collected from various cultures, then the artist places them in a new context, as ready-mades, hybrids, or reproductions made of unexpected materials, playing on their inner tensions. The resulting sculptures captivate the viewer with their tender irony and effectiveness, while their value and the way they are produced and presented is put up for debate. His work thus draws on Pop Art, Arte Povera, Fetish Finish, and Appropriation Art, creating intelligent connections with the modern era.
Playing the role of explorer, collector, or tinkerer, Valentin Carron has repeatedly focussed on objects from his alpine home country. The Pergola (2001) appears to be a realistic reproduction, but turns out to be made of polyester resin; Château-Synthèse (2000) is a wine produced artificially without grapes, so it has no local origin; and the cross of Sans Titre (2003), with its unusual plastering, looks like a reusable decoration object for religious mass rallies. These sculptures quote the image of his native canton of Valais as a romantic, wild country with a rich tradition that, on closer analysis, reveals itself to be a relatively recent construct deriving from the efforts to build a national identity at the time of the national exposition that was held at the turn of the century. The series of pictures Sans Titre (2002) reinterpret objects known from a common, globalized pool of cultural assets. The paintings are reminiscent of the works of Léger, their wooden stretchers and leather strips recall African handicrafts. The result is a pseudo-trendy fusion that at the same time throws some light on the cultural borrowings of Modernism.
For his show at the gallery, Valentin Carron slips into the role of an art patron. The first room groups trophies from various eras, intended to symbolize the power of their owners. Unlike the Futurists, who were fascinated by the technological advances, speed, and violence of their own time, Carron has chosen canons to be his models, using designs going back to General Gribeauval, who centralized and improved canon production in pre-Revolutionary France and harmonized their types. The plain, unadorned canons are sitting on concrete pedestals, or hanging nose up on the walls, strangely defused, immobile and functionless. The artist evidently plays on their inherent, potentially violent virility, which in a context like this, however, soon begins to falter.
Hybrid elements to defend the palisade fence of a Gallic village against a steel beam of modern architecture create a transition to the next room. Its center is occupied by the sculpture Lasciatemi vivere la mia vita (2005), a reproduction of the bronze Roman warrior at the Fondation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny ¬- or rather, of his remains, an arm and a leg, fitted with iron rods to reconstruct a man. The surrounding walls are hung with prints of psychedelic motifs created by a friend of the artist outside the art world. In this way, the artist wants to present himself as the patron of a pair of citizens of Martigny who could not be more different in the influence they have on the town. The title of the show is borrowed from the nickname of the first tagger in Martigny.
Wandering between the two rooms as a ready-made is an automatic vacuum cleaner – an ambiguous object that serves as a clin d'oeil to Marcel Duchamp's Dust Breeding (1920) while spreading the diffuse sense of unease that robotic surveillance cameras inspire in us.