Mathieu Briand

Portrait

Born in Marseille (France), lives and works in Melbourne (Australia) and Nosy Tanga (Madagascar)

SYS*021.IsN*01/EsE-AcE.InR-ExR\Mic-EnE*4, 2004

I dream of you, 2017

Ax/0, 2017

Works by Mathieu Briand combine the virtual, the real and the imaginary, transporting us on a journey in situ that opens the way to a world that is externalised and limitless, but nonetheless rooted in reality.  Echoing the 2017 Biennale’s theme, Briand revisits his exhibition Derrière le monde flottant (“Behind the floating world”), held at macLYON in 2004. The resulting installation consists of three works linked in time and connected in space by red piping that ascends vertically, unbroken, through the space of the Sucrière, from the ground to the second floor.  In pride of place on the ground floor, the artist revisits a work from the 2004 exhibition. Visitors are invited to enclose themselves in an egg-shaped sensory chamber and experience a paradoxical, intra-uterine sensation. The sound heard in the chamber derives not from its immediate surroundings, but from those of the next work in the sequence, on the first floor. There, installed in a hammock, like the protagonists in Chris Marker’s science fiction film La Jetée (“The Jetty”), and equipped with video glasses, the visitor is immersed in a hypnotic sequence, alternately visiting the previous exhibition at macLYON, and exploring an island off the coast of Madagascar, where Mathieu Briand launched his art project Et In Libertalia Ego, in 2008. Images of both settings – the traditional museum space, transfigured by the artist, and the seemingly opposite, fantasy space of the uninhabited island – mingle to become mental spaces liable to give rise to creative forms and participatory experimentation. Lastly, the red piping (sheath casing for electric wires) leads us to the top floor, via a stairwell whose final steps have been removed, transforming it into a dead end. From here, the piping plunges down into a moving half-body on the ground below: an android. At this moment, the visitor enters a twilit zone described by the Japanese theorist Masahiro Mori (in the 1970s) as “the uncanny valley”: a space in which we feel empathy for a machine, albeit one seemingly destined to replace us. The “floating world” (Ukiyo-e) is not far off. The android’s presence prompts a telescoping which Mathieu Briand sees as “symptomatic of modernity. The android dreams, and we are a part of its dreams, and share in them, in equal measure.” Inspired by Philip K. Dick, Mathieu Briand seems to be posing the same question as one of the celebrated science-fiction author’s most prophetic novels:   Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and to add, “Are we, after all, this android’s dream-world?”

 

With backing from MONA, Tasmania, Australia and the Fondation Antoine de Galbert, Paris and with support from ATC Groupe

 

©Isabelle Caparros

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