Marine Hugonnier

Art for Modern Architecture – Years of Lead (1980), 2017

Silk printed paper clips onto vintage newspapers front pages

68 x 51 cm


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Artwork
Description

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The ongoing series of collages entitled ‘Art for Modern Architecture’ was begun by Marine Hugonnier in 2004. Each work comprises a newspaper front-page with its pictures hidden by small blocks of coloured paper. Originally, the artist used blocks of bright geometric pattern extracted from Line, Form, Color—a book by Ellsworth Kelly, the American painter, sculptor and printmaker. Even now, long since Hugonnier began making her own, single-colour blocks out of silkscreened paper, Kelly’s influence continues to resonate in the collage series. For instance, Hugonnier’s use of newspaper—a literary genre with special resonance within our social structure—recalls Kelly’s principle that art should serve a structural function in modern life.

This particular collage has, at its base, a vintage edition of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, dated 1980. Indeed, the collage belongs to a subgroup of ‘Art for Modern Architecture’ created in response to Pietro Consagra—a sculptor who was at his most active between the 1960s and 1980s. This date has another, broader significance however: in 1980, the Years of Lead (1969-1980) came to a dramatic climax in Consagra’s native Italy. After more than a decade of political turbulence (fuelled by the leftist paramilitary group, the Red Brigade), Bologna was hit by the deadliest terrorist attack of the era. The newspaper Hugonnier selects for this collage reports this massacre. Its headline reads ‘Apocalypse in Bologna. 76 dead, 147 injured’.

In obscuring the images from this infamous and well-reported event, Hugonnier disrupts the normative narratives of propaganda, spectacle and power, and, thereby, she undermines the authority of each. What’s more, in being highly economic with her information—or, rather, in explicitly withholding information, the artist creates a profusion of imagery. That is to say, each individual viewer is encouraged to bring their various recollections or imagined recreations of the scene to bear upon the artwork.

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