MARTIN LE CHEVALLIER
Born in 1968 in France
Lives and works in Rennes, France
Born in May 68, Martin Le Chevallier has been developing a substantial body of work since the end of the 1990s, one in which he brings his critical eye to bear on contemporary myths and ideologies.
His first work, Gageure 1.0 (1999), takes the “spectator-cum-guinea pig” through the world of corporate discourse in the form of a labyrinthine arborescence on CD-ROM. After this project, he produced a series of games (Flirt 1.0, 2000, a game of seduction made from American film noir movie excerpts; then Vigilance 1.0, 2001, a game of video surveillance) and interactive videos. During his artist residency at the French Academy in Rome in 2000-2001, he made Félicité (Bliss), an evocation of an idle utopian society, and Oblomov, a minimalist adaptation of the novel by Ivan Gontcharov. This cycle of interactive videos came to an end in 2005 with Le Papillon (The Butterfly), the story of a character whose life is upset by the impatience of viewers.
Martin Le Chevallier often uses the very instruments and processes that characterize our times as constituent elements in his representations of them. Witness the way in which consumerist pathologies are conjured by a vocal telephone server (Doro bibloc, 2003) and the security utopia by a “coming attractions”-type trailer (Safe Society, 2003). In 2007, the artist created a “fair” piece for the Fiac, in the form of a painted wood polyptych, in an ironic tribute to the policies of Nicolas Sarkozy (« NS »).
Le Chevallier’s recent pieces work on the basis of an interference with reality. In this vein, he asked a consulting firm to propose a strategy for him to attain glory (The Audit, 2008); he traveled in procession to Brussels with a miraculous European flag (The Holy Flag, 2009); he secured a Tuileries Gardens pool with remote-controlled, toy police boats (Ocean Shield, 2009); and he set up viewpoint binoculars overlooking a hypermarket (Ralentir ses battements de paupières, exhibition, 2010), or by arranging the amphitheatre tiers in his gallery window, suggesting that the city is a theatre (Solipsisme n°1, 2011). In 2014, he responded to the call for projects for the French pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, offering to sell the pavilion and to build a floating, cosmopolitan island with the money raised.
As a counterpoint to these contextual projects, the artist has pursued his film work. A case in point is year 2008 (2010), at once a film and an installation, which presents a picaresque narrative of globalization.