Julien Prévieux

Artist (1964)

After a period spent in the HEC preparatory class, Julien Prévieux simultaneously took a course at the Advanced School of Art in Grenoble, and studied biology at the university. A strange way of introducing the praxis of an artist through his years of training. By pushing a little further, we would undoubtedly discover in them the origin of his interest in economics and the aberrations of financial systems, the definition of protocols pushed to absurd limits, database compilation, and collections of unlikely objects, be they vernacular or obsolete, which, despite themselves, convey a meaning and challenges which exceed them. But it is possible that with Julien Prévieux everything started with a story of CVs—or almost. In the early 2000s, he came to notice in particular by publishing Lettres de non-motivation—more than a thousand at the time of writing—in which he sends negative replies to job offers published in the press, explaining, with a fierce and cathartic wit, the reasons prompting him to regretfully turn down all those proposals. This work is emblematic of the way in which the artist appropriates the codes, languages and logical systems of certain sectors of activity, and practices associated with the organization of knowledge, while at the same time literally turning them inside out against themselves, so as to bring out contradictions and aberrations. He thus develops a strategy of counter-employment in which decision-assisting computer software systems produce diagrams which are as Ubuesque as they are disconcerting; the font’s optimization and statistical tools give rise to an abstract drawing workshop calling for slowness and precision, classic economics texts cryptically announce the excesses and scandals of neo-liberalism, and Bernard Madoff’s library seems to contain all the clues of the financial scam of the century. He is also interested in insignificant objects which we might describe as “minor”. He thus puts together a library of books doomed to be pulped whose out of date contents suggest the limits of the validity of an area of knowledge in time as well as excessiveness and exaggeration in the production of information. With Le Lotissement (2008) Julien Prévieux produced a set of replicas of huts where famous inventors, musicians and philosophers took refuge to work in, the minor here becoming the condition and the place in which major intellectual and cultural works emerged. In 2014, the artist won the Prix Marcel Duchamp when he presented What Shall We Do Next? In the form of a video and a performance, this work questions the imprint of new technologies in everyday gestures and behaviour.

Raphaël Brunel

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