As a continuation of the Paris / Marseille exhibition, the Paris / Bordeaux project explores with subjectivity another French marginal artistic position. Bordeaux, an insular city, built and structured by a powerful bourgeoisie, has been able to receive a heckled image of itself underneath its outskirts, carried by artists with sharp critics.
The principle of irreverence in this project is a broad one: it stems both from an impudence towards the city’s social structure, but also from a distrust of a central power. Thus, when, in 1969, four friends got together to write the Internationale Panchounette, it was as much a matter of summoning Debord as it was of pursuing the absurd project of the Incohérents in producing a sociological criticism of the art and its milieu, two years following BMPT’s first three events and their authoritarian Parisian program. The work PP est de Bordeaux comme Dada est de Zurich claims a territorial anchorage and openly expresses the desire to speak to the world from Bordeaux, as Cabaret Voltaire had decided to do it in 1916 when it brought together «dangerous anarchists» around Hugo Ball in the middle of World War I to speak up from Switzerland, a neutral country in the conflict. The two other works Comédie and Congo Go are also in the same vein, hence mocking, through simplistic constructions, an irreverence towards painting (the scaffolding of painting itself in the Girondin’s town) or conceptual artists of their time («Less is less, more is more»), trapped in an American supremacy.
This improper satire of a system is not the monopoly of Présence Panchounette, other faces had already done so or will have the bold desire to challenge certain codes. This was the case of Chaval, whose satirical drawings mocked the bourgeois society from which he came himself. As much as his contemporary Alphonse Allais, a member of the Fumistes, Hydropathes and Hirsutes brotherhoods, Chaval will keep on caricaturing the daily life of a society he viewed as haughty, serious, and arrogant. The drawing Untitled itself is a mockery of the artist’s relationship to his model and to power, in this case a gendarme, considered to be on a low level on the authority ladder, a puppet figure of power.
As for Pierre Molinier (M le Maudit), he led his life backwards of all convenience, seeking to disturb this provincial conformism while upsetting an André Breton whose certainties seemed suspicious to him. Careful of his independence, Molinier’s erotic-pornographic autofictions would nevertheless receive local recognition from an elite slinging itself, and the Molinier character would soon become a household name, receiving visits from Jacques Chaban-Delmas, and even forcing the city of Bordeaux to name a public square of the city after him during Alain Juppé’s term of office.
Léa Le Bricomte’s work, Dripping Medals, uses as its charms a series of medals whose elongated ribbons evoke the «great American painting». This art piece, displayed at the Galerie La Mauvaise Réputation (whose attachment to impertinence is a signature in the towns of Montesquieu, Mauriac and Montaigne), considers this ultra-presence of America in our recent art history an improbable and questionable colonialism, carried by Jackson Pollock, a red-neck hero with a reactionary stench (In this regards, a parody of a Pollock’s dripping exists in Présence Panchounette’s play : «In dog there is a doghouse and in man there is public housing »).
However, this project does not aim at mishandling this city, but on the contrary at recognizing that these insolences have received their benevolent welcome. Thus, behind its 18th-century façades and its label sometimes limited, Bordeaux has been able to welcome these points of views and it is perhaps also that environment which allowed the existence of the Sigma Festival, the creation of the CAPC, and the emergence of some entities, even galleries.