Paris

Michel Blazy

Galerie Art: Concept

There has been much talk in recent years about Michel Blazy, a young French artist whose work arouses divided reactions—either enthusiastic approval or rejection and disgust. It is difficult to remain indifferent before one of his “vegetal sculptures,” composed as they are of living organisms—plants, weeds, and mashed vegetables. The installations give off smells ranging from pleasant to mud, and, depending on their freshness, may even have begun to attract parasites, flies, or aphids. This is precisely Blazy’s intention. Project for an Interior Pleasing to Insects, 1996, welcomed the creatures as a natural part of life, with whom one could peacefully cohabit. Blazy’s micro-organisms and Lilliputian plots, his humble bricolage of small-scale horticulture, accomplished with a great economy of materials, propose that we change our values. He recommends with humor that we care for—that is, water, maintain, and oversee—the “rejects” of the plant world: weeds and molds.

The title of his recent exhibition, “Le Multivers” (The multiverse), is a pun on “multiple verdure” and “multiple vermin”: the French ver (worm), vers (verse), and vert (green) are homonyms. The works (all untitled, 1998, with the exception of Rosae, 1993) presented, without any morbid overtones, the growth of mold and rot. For example, a pinkish cone of carrot puree, covered with a light blush of whitish mold, adhered to the ceiling of the gallery. The artist spread a cotton-covered iron rod with the puree and then placed it under a plastic bag, so the mold could grow to the desired quantity. Exposed to air, the puree dried out, allowing the piece to be preserved indefinitely. The same process yielded a sphere attached to the wall, whose mold marbled the carrot cone; a broccoli-based piece mounted to one of the gallery columns; and a pretty wreath whose armature, covered with birdseed, metamorphosed with daily watering into lush verdure.

How will these works, destined as they are for extinction, be preserved? It all depends on the “goodwill” (to use one of the artist’s favorite expressions) of their connoisseurs. When purchased, each piece is accompanied by a photograph or videotape and a certificate attesting to the processes of its fabrication. Blazy’s works may be bought as is and left to decompose, or they may be “reactivated” at the whim of the buyer; the art evinces a struggle against the passage of time, the nurture of a dream of conviviality between human and vegetal organisms.

Anne Dagbert

Translated from the French by Warren Niesluchowski.