In Latin American context it is not strange to cope with a tent in middle of a public space, the “emergency housing” is an old known for our social and economic reality. Generally, we pass them through with just a brief reflection about poverty, but what happens when that tent is intervened with an explicit, clearly written message in our language? changing their condition of submissive beings to turn into provocative beings. There is when the work of the artist Thierry Geoffroy (1961) begins.
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The Franco-Danish artist is not friend of labels, however, he accepts one to refer to his piece: format art, the format as a work art. His artistic process is multidisciplinary and makes a good use of the exchange of expertises conflicts that are carried out in the collaborative work. For him, human relationships are completely natural and are part of the piece. Geoffroy installs us in here and now, takes us away from technologic self-absorption to face our environment, again, with its pros and cons.
Contemporary art tends to avoid labels. However, throughout your career you have classified your work as a format art, where the message is the medium, how did you come to such a conclusion?
I created format art as a denomination because I wanted to talk about efficiency and global ambitions. The desire to create a recipe for art capable of multiplying and expanding. Formats in art are created to train the muscle of consciousness, awaken it to be alert to see and resolve emergencies. As many people as possible should be aware, so I’m looking for formulas. Someone created football as a formula to play, and now it is played everywhere. I would like to create art formats to train the muscle of awareness that is activated everywhere.
The facilities of Emergency Rooms stand out for the idea of capturing the moment, while the exhibition lasts, changing places every day. Does this casual nature have to do with the idea of living on the street, in a situation of deprivation? How would you define this emergency aesthetics?
Emergency rooms has, by definition, a format that follows some patterns, but what is changing and updating is the exhibition inside, every day the exhibition depends on the context and also on what is happening, or can eventually predict or alert what could happen The aesthetics of emergency is more for me the works of art that are exhibited in the format, for example, all the works of art exhibited in the emergency room.
The facilities of Emergency rooms are related to the photographic record and the video-television format. How do new media, such as social media, affect the registration of the work of art? As we know, currently each viewer can participate in the piece simply by observing, traveling or photographing it. In that sense, would the registration be the same or more important than the installation itself?
It depends on the artistic format. Recording and distribution are part of the strategy. An art work that has to alert is more efficient if many people receive the warning.
Emergency rooms is a collaborative laboratory for artists, how does the dynamic develop between different aesthetic, cultural or generational visions? How are these heterogeneous visions finally managed for the execution of the project?
The search for artists to join the Emergency rooms movement includes a deliberate will to create biodiversity. Not only the medial artist must be part of Emergency rooms, also abstract painters. We believe that abstract perfectionist painters (being professionally abstract) while working very slowly on their compositions may have thought a lot about the dysfunctions of today’s world.
Abstract painters, of course, feel pain in the face of the injustices they witness every day and may feel the burning need to express precisely what they perceive. Analyzing and summarizing the birth, the source, the exact origin of what they suspect is the cause of the pain in real time. The abstract painter, for example, may also feel like expressing what he feels day after day crying alone on his couch watching the world collapse.
But not only abstract painters but also: party organizers, fashion creators, performers, logos artists, landscape photographers. Just to name unexpected categories. They must address, wish to join the emergency movement.
All kinds of practitioners are inspired in the room and together they create an emergency aesthetic. In Emergency room we do not want to give voice to provocative artists, media artists or porn artists alone.
We want to encourage different ways of thinking and different research methods. All genres must remain alive, new genres should appear.
What is the answer to the different communities where your facilities have been located? Is there any that you remember especially becaus of its impact?
An Emergency room in Hanoi is very different from one in New York. It also depends on when it is active, for example, we had the Emergency room in Athens when the city caught fire in 2007, so the artists had a lot to express because they were under the pressure of a nascent crisis. In Naples, we had an Emergency Room when the city was covered in garbage due to a long strike. Artists in Brazil formed communities faster than anywhere else. In New York the participating artists work more alone. In Paris the artists debate a lot, in Denmark very little. In Berlin it is difficult to make debates.
The place where it happens is important because of the participants and the public (who can participate in the daily debate), but also the moment in the story: fear, the hope of the moment.
However, if I open an Emergency Room in Chile, I will try to invite artists from all over, biodiversity is not only about the material they use, but also about their age and the culture they come from. So I will also invite artists from Asia, Africa; Europe etc…
What places in the world do you think currently need an emergency installation? Where should you point this political work?
All Emergency Rooms are important, also preventive: an attractive place, for example, Denmark that begins to behave strangely with hate laws. You can get ahead of accidents.
But the problems have already begun. Art can also try to give an anatomy dissection in real time, emergency art should prevent accidents, reduce the size of problems and, if it is too late, bring comfort.