It is modelled on the narrative of his Territoire du m² artistique
, created in 1977 – the same year as the Centre Pompidou – which follows the artist’s trajectory from his screen-paintings and other spaces to be filled in to his media-critical actions-performances on territories both local and planetary. Inhabiting a space between the real and the imaginary, the exhibition presents for the first time a selection of archive documents and previously unseen works, offering visitors an opportunity to discover or find out more about the career of this self-taught artist, pursued outside the institutions – 40 years of agitation and commitment!
Alicia Knock - What is the Territoire du m², created in 1977, whose 40th anniversary we are celebrating alongside the Centre Pompidou’s? Fred Forest -
The Territoire is a symbolic space divided into square metres, its “standard metre”. Each square metre is a space of expression offered to individuals to be used for the spoken word, music, drawing or critique. It’s a space to be filled in like the blank spaces in newspapers (Space-medias) that I did for the first time in Le Monde in 1972, and which were in a way the same thing in square centimetres, readers being invited to fill in 150 cm2 of newsprint. For me, these blanks evoked memories of the censorship – when an article was forbidden, the journalists would leave the space blank – but they were also intended to create a space onto which to project ones own content in a world saturated with information.
AK - Can you tell us about the context in which Space-medias appeared? FF -
In those days I was looking for a way in which a painting could change and develop and not be frozen into a cultural object. Le Monde
and the press in general percolated through an indeterminate space, a circulation that couldn’t be visualised, part poetic, part abstract. I wanted to give expression to this blank, a first effort a “showing the void”, a question I went on to tackle in many different ways.
AK - The Territoire is thus a space both real and imaginary, local and planetary? FF -
Exactly. I first conceived of the Territoire in imagining a Territoire du m² in Switzerland, intended as a critical action against speculation, in both property and art. I then looked for an actual physical location, which led to the business with the land at Anserville, 50 km from Paris, which became my square-metre museum. But the Territoire has both a material and a conceptual aspect; it is a place and a non-place, a space both local and global. It’s conceived in such a way that it can be configured at different scales: it can be traced on a table, but I like to say that it can also follow the continental drift and become planetary. The Territoire is an island in the ocean of communication, of the world. The various messages find material expression on site, and their juxtaposition gives rise to a kind of giant model. These messages can be different in kind: urbanistic, political, semantic, olfactory or auditory… The Territoire gives free rein to all the projections of the imagination, it’s a laboratory of ideas. As my friend Pierre Restany used to say, “the Territoire du m² is an opening into the unexpected, the spontaneous, onto the poetry of interdependent creatures, put simply the life of human beings.”
Curator : Mnam/Cci, Alicia Knock