Laurent Tixador, depolluting spirits to the sound of tantric music
For this new exhibition at the In Situ gallery, Laurent Tixador has embarked on a sound adventure, but is also experimenting with painting. In the same way as he arrived at construction and architecture through walking and the randomness of his discoveries, he is now producing more and more music, always based on found or second-hand materials, pursuing an ecological necessity nourished for the last 18 years.
Each new project reveals a new experience for Laurent Tixador himself, given that he lets serendipity insert itself into his work. Today, a small train (Loco System) circulates throughout the gallery, setting off music created by its passage with about 40 instruments. A sort of dreamlike throbbing that recalls the sounds of his group Les Portes de l’Enfer, it guides the visitor to other works, like a series of painting, a medium that the artist had never practiced before and resulting from his peregrinations on the Aletsch glacier, in Switzerland. The immaculate whiteness of the mountain is increasingly contrasted with the black of carbon, coming from the growing surrounding pollution. Laurent Tixador’s acts are those of minute gestures, and in this symbolism of removing waste, he chooses to extract with a teaspoon a kilo of harmful material that he will use a monochrome pigment on his canvases. He moves things and depollutes a natural site; even on a modest level and it is always beneficial. This act can also evoke the Fusav, brought back from the Kerguelen Islands, which he likes to cite because it shows that certain stories prove to be more exciting than others. So one day he discovered the presence of those Soviet sounding rockets, fired in the 1970s, right in the middle of the Cold War, on French territory, the first of which fell on land or in the sea. No one is very proud of this episode, although many launchers were left onsite… In a discreet, but assumed and asserted political gesture, he decided to exhibit a projectile in the gallery, during the preceding exhibition that was devoted to him. Not only did the paintings (Carbone suie) result from this action, but a multi-socket (Multiprise) as well, created from waste collected on the beach of Ouessant Island and permitting the projection of the film tracing the waste collection in progress.
Laurent Tixador sometimes works in complete isolation and stayed in cave or tiny islets, where he was alone, faced with his extreme concentration and the mental construction of his future projects. He doesn’t hesitate to assert, with a touch of humor, that “in 1.80 meters of diameter, a lot of things necessarily take place!” and that from his viewpoint, “it is really about a travel experience.” For other stories, he escapes to a broader geographic unknown and lets himself wander, also putting his body in difficulty. I met Laurent Tixador when I had invited him to take part in the “WANI” exhibition at the Fondation Ricard in 2011, of which I was the curator along with Paul Ardenne. The exercise, which he imposed on himself, was to walk 450 kilometers, from Nantes to Paris, and to put himself in the shoes of a fugitive tracked by potential bounty hunters, lured by a reward of 1,000 euros. Logically, he provided very few indications of his position and just indicated that he was well when we called him from time to time. Lastly, on the day of the preview showing, he arrived victorious, free and totally exhausted, given how much he had inserted himself into his role, like an actor, even if he never put forward a bombastic narration. This adventure reminded me, a few days after the death of the filmmaker Agnès Varda, of the absolute quest for freedom brandished by Mona, interpreted by Sandrine Bonnaire, in Sans Toit ni loi. Not only in the tale of this young woman who rejected society’s codes and crossing the different archetypes that peopled it – the bourgeois or the anti-globalist, altruist or predator – but also in the shooting of this feature-length film in which the 18-year-old actress had to abide by the reality of the character and really suffer from the cold or lack of hygiene. Agnès Varda also included herself in this reality and had picked up hitchhikers to understand the daily life of the homeless or wandered in certain train stations at nightfall. Laurent Tixador combines this instigation of a fertile voyage with a near-fascination with craft and a desire to grant a fierce independence to each of his pieces. He builds them in totality and must be able to understand all their organizations and, if they became complex, his first action, carried out in 2001, proved to be “a founding gesture.” Its principle seems very simple: take off and stroll on the Coutainville dunes in July and August 2001 and pick up a stone. Decide to polish it to give it a cutting edge, which makes it possible to cut off a branch, then realize that attached to the stone, it forms an ax that can cut down a tree, then build a shelter. Whether they are huts, caves or other temporary living spaces, they are always left without the slightest source of pollution, because everything is pegged and wedged without using screws or string. The plastic artist is moreover as solitary in his practice as he is in his references. He does not acknowledge any fellow artists with similar issues, at least with the same radicalness, no more than any affiliation with Robert Filliou of whom one could think in this elaboration of making or badly making and of a semblance of very conceptualized tinkering, using poor materials. At the very most, he admits that he loves, for example, Werner Herzog’s way of working, welcoming the accident in his shootings, fortunately much more eventful than his own performances. Nonetheless, there remains in the two actors a growing awareness of action being produced: “You have to deserve certain landscapes and contexts,” Laurent Tixador points out, “because surprises crop up in out-of-the-way spaces and if I don’t seek out precise situations, I look for adventure and the unknown. When you arrive in a place, you only see at the beginning the materials that you can use and things on the surface. You observe what everyone sees. Next, you discover more subtle materials and solutions to continue to develop your siting. You have to know how to read the context in which you find yourself. Observation is my main toolbox and, by dint of moving around, I broaden this reading capacity.” He has furthermore developed his capacity to be able to master and understand the function of everything that surrounds him. Consequently, he was delighted about the construction of a cannon (Canon de buis) about 60 centimeters long, representing a new technical challenge. Obviously, Laurent Tixador will never take it with him when he travels, but nourishes the satisfaction of being able to reproduce it, as in this model (Cagna), which is an effigy of a hut imagined in World War I by a German soldier. Conducting little research ahead of time, he nevertheless brought together a collection of images of his precarious dwellings that the soldiers of the rear line built. Some were done in a great hurry, others in a delusional utopia, while a third category attempted to recreate the coquetry of cozy homes. The artist had already put some of them back into context in the framework of workshops, then he designed that last piece using nothing but elements from his garbage can, remaining in autarky in his own home. Far from being trash, the object proves to be very delicate. It is just like what a designer shows, with considerable moderation, of his civil or political commitment, notably by reusing the numerous police munitions that he regularly picks up in the streets of Nantes, during and after demonstrations.
Laurent Tixador’s itinerary reveals a certain premonitory character, particularly in his ecological awareness. Working with found objects and things deposited here and there accompanied an initial desire to not “produce works of art” and to not clutter up space. It was a sort of counter-current to the pompous and wasteful 1980s during which he grew up, but also to a relational aesthetic that he experiences in a very personal way, sometimes even in a somewhat animal and wild manner. He feels things and, when he is questioned on ecology, he answers that it is simply a matter of “doing what’s needed so that objects are in their place.” Some followers of the meditative or yogi New Age could also idolize him for his concept of the present time. Here too, Laurent Tixador will surprise us when he points out that his favorite series of the moment are about crazy and cheap science fiction or space westerns that were released in the early 2000s and thrust him today into a sort of retro-futuristic out-of-time. If he has always been one step ahead, perhaps he shows us that the future will develop in more chaotic narrations or will deteriorate, but rocked by the throbbing, shamanic and hypnotic sounds that he now takes pleasure in playing.
Galerie In Situ - Fabienne Leclerc
14 Boulevard de la Chapelle