Bernard Calet

Pavillon témoin, 1990

This work is made up of a photograph on glass showing a “suburban home-type” construction model, supported by a steel cut-out which borrows the shape of the division. Bernard Calet is no longer referring here to something imaginary, but to a form of social behaviour: the show home, a dream of “standardized” happiness, shared by thousands of citizens, which, here, is nothing more than an image, a reflection of a desired house. With the machine-tooling of the materials, their rigour and their coldness, the work speaks out against a sort of zero degree of architecture. A zero degree hallmarked by the fact that the construction kept in the state of standard housing has not yet become a dwelling. Access to property, which presupposes a personal availability of money, is here subject to the anonymity of the architectural proposition, to its aesthetic which can be reproduced and applied to any kind of territory. The notion of privacy is surpassed, as if covered by what is commonplace in general: it is dissolved in the obvious reproduction in thousands of copies of this type of standard construction. As the artist himself says: “First and foremost I have been interested in show houses because these architectures, which are kinds of small houses, are representational. These three-dimensional objects create an “image”. They are not used to house but to show, like the number zero before a series or a multiple edition. I have only photographed show houses beside national highways, in commercial zones, in those areas of urban growth between city and country, and those exposed in villages combining this type of construction. I would take exhibition objects into exhibition venues… For people whose access to the ownership of a plot of land and an individual home is a sign of social success, these houses are dream objects. These architectures and the places where they are installed are the testimony of an economic and social reality, that of a stereotyped production of the dwelling and its standardization at lesser cost. […] These models are adapted to the terrain, they become regionalized, and like any merchandise, they evolve in time, and are renewed” (2000).

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