Named after a popular brand of French stationary, the Paris-based collective Claire Fontaine describes herself, in the third person, as a ready-made artist: ‘an ordinary subject elevated to the dignity of an artist by the mere choice of the artist’. If contemporary art has been built on the mythified cornerstone of the inspired, individualised (usually male) artist, she looks instead to other models of collectivity, discussion and even compromise, claiming that ‘Claire Fontaine is composed of assistants, its management is an empty center’. The assistants seem to be doing all the work for an artist that has evaporated into pure origin (of meaning).
And yet Claire Fontaine delights in quirky appropriation – see her neon signs where however we read STRIKE – or openly dangerous pastiche – see her La société du spectacle brickbat where the cover of Guy Debord’s cult 1967 treatise The Society of the Spectacle gets wrapped around a brick which, conceivably, one might throw against a shop window of a nasty corporation during a demo. Claire Fontaine is interested in things such as May 1968, writing – her first artworks were writing dropped at exhibitions – and dissemination. She understands perfectly that circulation of signs is akin to living free. But unlike the postmodernists of the 1980s, Clare Fontaine believes that the circulation of signs is the circulation of meaning. She opted to participate in ECONOMY with a simple canvas bag that says CAPITALISM KILLS LOVE. It’s true. We invite you to take a bag with you when leaving the show and walk with it around the city. Let everyone know.