We can point up unique things by using tags that identify the imagined standard adjectives concerned, like labelling the sun as “hot” or a brick as “heavy”. When we tag or label, we often settle for these scores of standardisation. As affirmations, they highlight the known. They are typologies. They are recognisable. We do this all the time and stick to this practice pretty much all of the time.
Julien Berthier produces sketched plans of props, architectural works in public space, interventions and sculptures. The tags he uses stick to a known composite - either their conventional establishments and/or imputed states of affairs – but in sync with this, they stand out in material deconstruction and/or communicative disruption. As if you were labelling a Smurf “blue” – though this idea is too cheap for Berthier. As the set-up alters, our placement is intervened on and our prospects turn out of bounds, causing misbalance on the strip that opens up for a lived-through and communicatively vibrant reconsideration: both humourists and humour arise out of displacement.
Examples of Berthier’s works are ‘La Concentration des Services’ (2011), in which he assembled all services found on a street corner (bus-stop, streetlight, surveillance camera, kakemono, clock, loud speaker, solar panel, traffic lights, street number, garden, direction panels, street name plates, bird house, taxi post, garbage, parking ticket machine, mailbox, bicycle parking, city map and public bench) in one unique object. Or ‘Il n’y pas de hasard’ (2005), for which he built an enlarged ruler of an arbitrary length to measure houses, electric cables, streets and fences all of the same height in the Canadian countryside.
As it flirts with the standardisation our collective consciousness ascribes to architecture and subject matter, this interventionism is affirmative in an overly conservative disruptive fashion: articulating an architectonic regular and releasing an imaginative of the conventional. Coping with the accomplishments of modernity, we fall back on the standard markings that once mechanically set out to build our safe havens.
In his exhibition at Onomatopee, Julien Berthier will zoom in on some of his urban propositions through drawings and maquettes. If we are lucky, we will experience an outdoor intervention as well.
At the turn of the year, we expect to release a publication; some sort of wondering prose by a writer yet to be announced, who will be walking through Berthier’s wondrous scenes.