Fabrice Gygi

Galerie Bob van Orsouw

Anyone who has visited the Bob van Orsouw Gallery, with its four distinctive central pillars, will be curious about the latest response to its architecture. Fabrice Gygi’s installation did not disappoint. Upon entry, the eye was momentarily stunned by a luminous orange atmosphere: a wall of plastic tarps, the kind used at stadium events, cloaked the center of the room, so that the visitor had to navigate along its perimeter (whoever set foot inside had to remove his or her shoes and deposit them on a nearby shelf). On the far side of the balustrade was a lectern—then again, it could have been a pulpit, or a podium for a judge or an auctioneer. Loudspeakers suspended between the pillars issued a digital mix of techno music and the voice of the Lebanese singer Fairuz (who has lately incorporated Western elements into her songs). Foam exercise mats covered the floor, as for a tai chi or gymnastics class. The factory-fresh materials and sleek, clean construction added to the installation’s ambivalence: nothing about the room’s possible function could be surmised.

Equal parts arena, festival tent, party headquarters, and cult activity center, Gygi’s discrete, constructed spaces superimpose different codes in order to close—but not completely erase—the distance between social classes or ethnic groups, facilitating a cultural exchange that transcends both exoticism and vague plurality.

All of his pieces are produced from the same limited selection of industrial materials; it is possible to mistake them for commercial products, but each element is in fact custom built. They are joined together with straps and stakes, which lent a temporary feel to the exhibition, as though it could have been dismantled like a circus tent.

Fabrice Gygi, born in Geneva in 1965, currently lives in Zurich and Geneva. He travels often, searching for whatever traces of the political are present in everyday objects far from the world of art. This installation’s French title, “Sans nul titre” (Without any title), with its double negative, winks at both the scripting of artwork and the installation’s theatrical qualities; it seems to imply that critiques of ideology can be protected from their own ideologization. The pulpit in this space is, after all, missing a microphone: the art’s definitive social coordinates remain indefinite.

Hans Rudolf Reust