Analysis out of the box

A work/A brand #1: Raymond Hains, Renault Captur, performance

Analysis out of the boxArt & Business | There’s not much in common between New Realist Raymond Hains’s sculpture of an oversized, partially used book of matches (Saffa and Setia, beginning in 1964), and the Renaut Captur’s willowy form of a feline swooping onto its prey (2014), the latest brand « crossover » , an unexpected commercial success, but perhaps a carefully calibrated one.

Renault Captur (à gauche) & Raymond Hains, Seita à droite), 1926-2005 (France) © DR
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Renault Captur (à gauche) & Raymond Hains, Seita à droite), 1926-2005 (France)
© DR

50 years, not much in common except a shared idea : to live not for yesterday, not for tomorrow, but in the present moment. Coupled with the idea of transformation, at the heart of lived experience, situated between the already happened and the yet to come. Fires and felines are images that function as metaphors, bring life into the present moment.

Instant, Time

Temporality is Raymond Hains’ work, down to his very relationship with the word : posters, fences, blue ink writings’. The poster, a living relic, is also a burned matchstick : a past instant leaving behind a living sculpture to age like fine wine. The brand has other, more prosaic concerns. A producer of objects, thus a producer of the real, which is to say, a producer of dreams, they also breathe the air of the times.
Time is a chimera and certain astrophysicists think it doesn’t exist, that its concept simply falls outside the scientific field of physics. Similarly, the idea of transformation at the heart of lived experience can only be understood outside classical notions of temporality : articulated, for example, in a narrative dimension as the story of a life in the making. With the Narrative Schema, semiotics articulates this in the form of a logical suite, disconnected from a temporal dimension. We can synthesize as follows : a Competence (the expression of an appetence to do or to be) opens onto a Performance (the expression of a transformation), which introduces a Glorifying Sanction (the expression of a point of view on the realized action). With the Captur, Renault manifests the Performance from the point of view of the magnetizing affect of the Competence, from the point of view of an appetence to do or to be. With his matches as with his posters, Raymond Hains manifests this from a diametrically opposed viewpoint : the Performance is from the point of view of the magnetizing Glorifying Sanction, a point of view on the realized action.

Semiotic performance

Moving on, note that the automotive universe vis-à-vis the object world, and artistic Performance vis-à-vis art, each represent a high point. Each makes the semiotic performance their attractor. Raymond Hains, beyond his work, confuses the issue. The artist has made his wanderings, his travels, his conversations, and his life one long semiotic performance. Consider his writings, where he patiently re-transcribes in blue ink all or fragments of text in the margins of books. Is work necessarily art? Marcel Duchamp already posed the question. Why is it that it has retained all its relevance? At what point does a semiotic performance’s lesser degree of fusion in proportion to refinement make it no longer art but life again? The work here shares with the automobile that it is (and will remain) an object : a mediating body between the being and the world. A work is not necessarily art when, upon disappearing, it puts the being and world back in each other.

Artistic performance

Semiotic Performance has little, or a great deal, to do with the practice of artistic Performance, with its extremely diverse operating modes. But both share a comment point, once again linked to the automotive domain. BMW recently opened an artistic Performance venue in London, in partnership with the Tate Modern. It should be noted that BMW is once again following its DNA, the vehicle brand’s devotion, from its emblem to the exterior end interior design, to the unfolding Narrative Schema of life in the making on a social scale. Deeply invested in the art world, the brand is also sponsoring the exposition of the anti-Raymond Hains, Jeff Koons, at the Centre Pompidou.

Self-sufficient ecosystem

Perhaps it’s futile to draw such comparisons between a consumer product and an art object. Situated at polar opposites of the imagination, they call on radically different modalities to exist in the world. Note that the so-called consumer object tends toward the semiotic Performance from the perspective of Competence’s magnetic force, the viewpoint of the expression of an appetence toward doing and being. The art object tends to the inverse : the semiotic Performance is given to illustrate the viewpoint of the Glorifying Sanction’s magnetic force, a viewpoint on the Life lived. The first presents a form of horizontality, the second a kind of verticality : the prosaic in opposition to the aura. However, both fall under the same common system, a self-sufficient « ecosystem » of contemporary construction and organization. With the consumer object, the prosaic is compatible with the immanent, while with the art object, the aura is compatible with the transcendent. Each holds the other, with both exuding the almost irrefutable transparency of the real. We know Robert Filliou’s famous proposal that Art is what makes life more interesting than art. Raymond Hains’s work-life seems to ceaselessly attempt to disappear into verticality, privileging a simple vibratory quality in performance. In such, Raymond Hains the moralist is also talking to use about the anthropologic place of art and the artist.

Dominique de Varine
Publié le 27/11/2014
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Version française

Renault Captur (à gauche) & Raymond Hains, Seita à droite), 1926-2005 (France) © DR Erwin Wurm, Fat Car, 2001 © Osterreichischer Skulpturenpark Cesar, Compression ’Ricard’ (Compression), 1962 © Adam Rzepka - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI (diffusion RMN) / © Adagp, Paris

Renault Captur (à gauche) & Raymond Hains, Seita à droite), 1926-2005 (France)
© DR

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