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When energy becomes form

Contemporary Art | Historic experimentation on light, on perception, the relationships between art and dance, the spread of dematerialized works of art all bring to light material that gœs beyond representation, and that takes on a whole other dimension in the globalized world : energy.

Joseph Beuys, Capri-Battery, 1985 © Lucio Amelio
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Joseph Beuys, Capri-Battery, 1985
© Lucio Amelio

At the heart of light, of perception, and of the body lies energy in its infinite multiplicity : radiance, vibration, electricity, magnetism, aura, charge, beat, oscillation, vital force, flux, circulatory energy, relational energy, productive energy... Capturing energy, giving it a form has motivated, and continues to motivate, the eclectic processes of artists throughout time, space, and within the context of world events.
This medium comes out of contemplation or representation, and, its very substance runs through post war art :
Jackson Pollock’s fluids, the happenings of the Japanese
Gutaï group. Also Yves Klein, and, especially, Joseph Beuys, whose work is impregnated with energy : installations, grease, felt tip, Action/Happening and the concept of « Social Sculpture »... Energy permeates the avant garde movements of the ’70s, with, amongst others, Carl André, Richard Long, Mario Merz...
In France, a notable milestone is Jean-Pierre Bertrand, who develops combinational and physical devices of anthropomorphic plates, where sanguine red brass bodies act like batteries on the viewer. And Tatiana Trouvé, who is trying to capture the aura of a fourth dimension in her environments...
In an era of networks and globalization, a new generation of artists is registering a body of work that is totally dematerialized, based on the circulation of an artistic phenomenon, energy, slow in its contamination, as with the British German artist, of Indian origin, Tino Sehgal whose live works presented in exhibition venues, are lived in the instant, at the moment of performance. All filming or photographing of the event is prohibited, in order to stress the primordial strength of the original oral transmission as it happens. WOS/ Agences des Hypotheses (Hypotheses Agency) was initiated by Claire Dehove whose inclination is to shatter the notion of the material work of art, generating projects in a social context, such as, amongst others, « Diapalante » (Partnerships for Social Change), (Mutual Help in the Wolof Language)...
In the realm of design, we begin to see, in an experimental form, functional objects in which energy becomes the substance of form and function : electric energy in the stool designed by François Azambourg on the initiative of R31Lab?cellular energy in the context of a design and science experiment, orchestrated by Le Laboratoire in Paris with François Azambourg, energy of the body with the Electrocyte Appendix lamp, created by designer-artist Revital Cohen. The future is already the present !

Nina Rodrigues-Ely
Publié le 16/03/2012
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Version française

Joseph Beuys, Capri-Battery, 1985 © Lucio Amelio Murakami Saburo, 1ère exposition Gutaï, Tokyo 1955 © GUTAI Revital Cohen, Electrocyte appendix © Revital Cohen François Azembourg, Choletaise (pliée) © Azembourg François Azembourg, Choletaise © Azembourg

Joseph Beuys, Capri-Battery, 1985
© Lucio Amelio

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