Marine Hugonnier

Art for Modern Architecture – Years of Lead (1978), 2017

Silk printed paper clips onto vintage newspapers front pages

68 x 51 cm


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Artwork
Description

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Marine Hugonnier began ‘Art for Modern Architecture’ in 2004. The series is made up of numerous collages in which the artist takes the front page of a newspaper and obscures its images with coloured patches. Initially, Hugonnier cut these rectangular shapes from Ellsworth Kelly’s book Line, Form, Color; and, in spite of the fact that she now designs her own overlays out of coloured silk printed paper, the ongoing series keeps Kelly’s core principles at its heart: namely, the older artist’s belief that art should occupy public spaces and serve some kind of structural function. This is one reason why Hugonnier makes newspaper pages—documents with an enormous influence on mankind’s social structures—the foundation of her collages.

These two collages use, as their base, vintage editions of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, dating from 1978. This date is significant because it corresponds to the most prolific period in the career of Pietro Consagra, to whom Hugonnier was responding in this subset of ‘Art for Modern Architecture’. The date also coincides with the Years of Lead in Italy (1969-1980), during which leftist revolutionaries waged a war of terror upon state officials and civilians alike. The newspaper to which Hugonnier fixes a small red rectangle records one of these acts of terror: the kidnapping of statesman Aldo Moro; the newspaper to which she fixes a small yellow rectangle documents Moro’s continuing absence, and platforms an Italian statesman’s demand for more decisive action against the left-wing movement.

By masking the images on these newspaper pages, Hugonnier subverts the typical narratives of propaganda, spectacle and power; and, consequently, she challenges the authority of those narratives. This economy of information—or, rather, outright omission—also cultivates a profusion of meaning: the viewer is denied access to the journalistic image and must therefore engage with the work by remembering or imagining what cannot be seen.

About
the artist

Marine Hugonnier was born in Paris in 1969. She studied philosophy and anthropology, before gaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Le Fresnoy, Studio National des Arts Contemporains, in 2000. She now lives and works in London.

Hugonnier’s works have been widely exhibited over the past fifteen years, including in shows at The Museum of Contemporary Arts, Seoul; The BALTIC Centre, Newcastle; Zabludowicz Collection, London. Hugonnier is also included in the collections of The Louvre, Paris; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia.

Hugonnier has worked in many different media—film, photography, collage, books and performance—but she has consistently engaged with the politics of representation. For instance, her works frequently acknowledge the fact that the viewer’s perception will be determined by their particular angle of observation; and they often employ this unavoidable aspect of the viewing experience as a metaphor for the inevitability of interpretational bias. In doing so, Hugonnier’s art not only deconstructs how and what we perceive visually; it also illuminates the viewer’s tendency to accommodate their predilections, circumscribing how and what they perceive analytically.

Never more is this the case than in Hugonnier’s ongoing series, Art for Modern Architecture (2004 – present), in which she takes the front page of various newspapers and obscures their images with patches of bright colour. This erasure technique works (alongside the general flatness of Hugonnier’s collage mode, which dictates a frontal approach) to enforce extreme restrictions upon our visual perception. These restrictions are then echoed in—and contribute towards—the viewer’s necessarily limited interpretation: we can only understand these collages according to our individual and necessarily biased memory or invented notion of the obscured images.

Hugonnier’s work revisits modernist tropes, often casting a disbelieving shadow upon their utopian aims to revolutionise the politics of power. For while her work shows that art can function in a social/political sphere to make people ‘think for themselves’, it also suggests that such a process might be considered a kind of propaganda in itself: one which enforces its own strict boundaries upon the viewer.


Hugonnier’s works have been widely exhibited over the past fifteen years, including in shows at The Museum of Contemporary Arts, Seoul; The BALTIC Centre, Newcastle; Zabludowicz Collection, London. Hugonnier is also included in the collections of The Louvre, Paris; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia.

Hugonnier’s work revisits modernist tropes, often casting a disbelieving shadow upon their utopian aims to revolutionise the politics of power. For while her work shows that art can function in a social/political sphere to make people ‘think for themselves’, it also suggests that such a process might be considered a kind of propaganda in itself: one which enforces its own strict boundaries upon the viewer.


Marine Hugonnier
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

September 26th, 2017 until
January 10th, 2018
Curated by ARTUNER