Pierre Bismuth questions the methods of transmission whereby the world is understood and communicated. He has helped to question the status of the artwork, its private and public use, and its place both in daily life and in the public place. Pursuing a line of research to do with identity—visual, plastic, symbolic—and our relation to cultural productions, he does not favour any particular area of intervention, but readily uses extracts of films as well as works by other artists, and found images. His early works produced in the late 1980s gravitate around language games: words and names try to signify the socio-cultural discriminations underlying forms of banality (Sans titre, which was exhibited in Châteauroux in 1992, for example). Bismuth tries to destroy the idea of a passive public which is just a receptacle for the work. In his installations, external protagonists take part in the actual preparation of the project. In the film Quelques comédiens au milieu de quelques acteurs, (1997-1999), he mixes actors with passers-by and tourists, thus questioning the patterns of behaviour undergone and those which are more remote. In The Party (2001), he asks a typist to describe everything she hears and can imagine in a film by Blake Edwards, which she only has a soundtrack of. In Following the Right Hand of… (2009), he projects a film onto a sheet of Plexiglas, and with a marker in his right hand traces the movements made by the actor. The result is an abstract drawing, a sort of “doodle” then printed on paper and overlaid on the original photogram. The texts and images which result from these experiments, mixing objective and subjective aspects, shed light both on the film’s content and on the process of understanding involved in it. “I hate works which are imposed as works. I like my work to be imperceptible.” Des choses en moins des choses en plus (2003) tries precisely to make the work disappear so as to intensify our perception of it, by getting rid of as much matter as possible.
Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Pierre Bismuth lives and works in New York and Brussels. He studied at the Advanced National School of Decorative Arts in Paris. The artist regularly takes part in exhibitions in France and abroad—notably in Switzerland at the Musée Thoune in 2005, and in Paris in 2007 as part of the exhibition Airs de Paris at the Centre Pompidou. In 2005 he won the Oscar for best screenplay with Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufmann for the film The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.