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The Venice Biennale makes room for Julien Creuzet
la-biennale-de-venise-fait-de-la-place-a-julien-creuzet - ARTACTIF
April 2024 | Reading time: 21 Min | 0 Comment(s)

About Julien Creuzet who will represent France at the Venice Biennale from April 20 to November 24, 2024, and his exhibition “Oh telephone, black oracle (...)”, currently visible in Grenoble, at Magasin-Cnac until to May 26.

So many things have washed up on its shores... No wonder Julien Creuzet used it to create hybrid forms with a loquacious trail. The one who even once considered his artistic future on the rap music scene has a lot to say. It is crossed by the world. And perfectly lucid about his appointment to represent the 60th edition of the Venice Biennale this year. “I’m not naive. My appointment, validated by two ministries, that of Culture and that of Foreign Affairs, corresponds to a political agenda", he confides to Anne-Cécile Sanchez, the journalist from the magazine L'Oeil and the Journal des Arts which is went to meet him in Montreuil, in the Paris region, where he lives.

Mischievous without ever seeming it, calm provocative of thought, above all straight in his boots, the visual artist, video maker, performer and poet, born in 1986 in Blanc-Mesnil (93) but having grown up in Martinique where he is from, has moreover demanded that the press conference presenting the French pavilion at the Venice Biennale take place in the West Indies at the beginning of February. More precisely at the Maison Edouard Glissant, in Le Diamant, this Martinique town where the French writer and philosopher, campaigner for the liberation of the colonies and champion of rhizomic thinking, had bought his last home now labeled “Maison des illustrious”. Since it is the first time that a Franco-Caribbean, or overseas, artist, that is to say French from an overseas department, is chosen to embody the art and national values of "the 'Hexagon' at the oldest international exhibition of contemporary art in the world, as much as the organizers explain it outside mainland France, right?

The artistic quality of Julien Creuzet's works of art has obviously been very officially claimed as the first reason for this choice. Which cannot be called into question, and has already earned him great recognition since his first exhibition in an institution in 2015 at La Galerie, a contemporary art center in Noisy-le-Sec. His career is flawless, from his exhibition at the Pernod Ricard Foundation in 2018 with Bétonsalon-Cnac to his nomination for the Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2021, including his participation in the Lyon Biennale in 2017. And since in 2019 he joined the High Art art gallery, Julien Creuzet's works of art for sale can be found all over the world. But the artist who has always questioned Western art and colonial history will not hesitate during the press conference in Martinique to say behind his microphone: “They had no choice”. And I don't think it was false modesty. Nor just modesty.

It’s a fact: “Julien Creuzet was able to embody, among the first and with a formal accuracy unique to him, the questions linked to postcolonial history,” notes Anne-Cécile Sanchez.

When three years ago, when talking about his works of art for sale at FIAC and Frieze in London, Julien Creuzet was cited as one of the new figures on the visual scene, it was already his busy work of colonial history, offering a rich and composite vision of the world, which confronted Western art and thought with their ethnocentrism. A revelation then still emerging but which would soon be essential for the next generation of artists, it had escaped no one's notice that Julien Creuzet practiced a heterogeneous and reflective art. Whose pieces are almost always immersive. Sometimes literally even, since he also practices virtual reality. They invite the public to inhabit them to dissect and experience the colonial heritage in them, by summoning the history of men and that of the arts through their rejects – here an airplane part, there an orientalist painting, further on a piece basketball, construction site nets or rice spilled on the ground – mixed with some demiurge inspirations – poems, songs, with texts that are always striking. As his words, both chosen and precise, are very free and proliferating. Because listening to Julien Creuzet is following a path of thoughts and inspirations whose destination we never know. As the saying goes, “the important thing is the journey”.

“The “Magiciens de la Terre” exhibition, designed by Jean-Hubert Martin at the Center Pompidou and the Grande Halle de la Villette in 1989, is often cited as a reference for the decompartmentalization of the arts,” recalls Julien Creuzet to the journalist from The eye. “But she placed an entire production in a magical-religious register. As long as the history of art continues to create hierarchies in the representation of forms, to distinguish avant-gardes such as surrealism and cubism, from the "primary" arts which inspired them, it denies the contribution of 'other. " I adore. And all this explained without anger, without dogmatism. For him, his mission as an artist is to bring the arts together. And he accepted it. I am already jubilant about the tremendous debates that the French pavilion in Venice will provoke. Tremendous advances for the history of art that the presence of this brilliant and resourceful man at the heart of the contemporary art market can generate... if of course we don't stop at trickery.

But I'm the optimistic type, so I decided to trust, to lead the boat safely, in this artist spotted in 2015 by Emilie Renard, now director of the Bétonsalon art and research center in Paris. “In 2012, there was the triennial “Intense proximity” at the Palais de Tokyo, with Okwui Enwezor as artistic director, of which I was one of the associate curators, remembers Emilie Renard. The French art world was then very reluctant to address these subjects. Okwui Enwezor addressed postcolonial questions from historical perspectives, from different centers of international creation. With hindsight, we can say that Julien Creuzet's work was also a response to this context. He was as interested in forms as in the cultural and historical charge of his sources, his materials.”

While waiting for Venice, we head to see the artist's solo exhibition at the Magasin - Center national d'art contemporain in Grenoble, “Oh telephone, black oracle (...)”. Moreover, Julien Creuzet chose Céline Kopp, director of the Store, with Cindy Sissoko, cultural producer based in the United Kingdom, to assist him in the project that he will present at the Biennale.

The title of the exhibition presented in Grenoble over 2,000 m2 is that of one of his video creations from 2015, in which the artist appears alone, at night, granting his phone the power of an obsidian stone. . Viewers will discover video installations that have never before been shown together, offering a retrospective look at the scope of his work. The exhibition is also based around the creations of five other contemporary artists: Phoebe Collings-James, Christina Kimeze, Manuel Mathieu, Bruno Peinado, and Chloé Quenum. Because Julien Creuzet’s natural inclination is to share. Making room for others is normal for him. For all of us too. I hope.

Valibri en RoulotteArticle written by Valibri in Roulotte

Illustration: Julien Creuzet becomes the first Franco-Caribbean artist to represent France at the Venice Biennale. © Virginie Ribaut

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