Sylvie Fleury (*1961 Switzerland),
Paris Commissioned, 2005,
6 Videos (3-channel-video installation) for the Mercedes-Benz Center in Paris
Sylvie Fleury - Shilpa Gupta
September 22 - November 19, 2006
Sylvie Fleury's works - pictorial objects and sculptures, mural painting and videos, photography and installations - are collected and exhibited by all major museums around the world. Commissioned by DaimlerChrysler France, Sylvie Fleury produced a series of six video works for the new Mercedes-Benz Brand Centre in Paris.
In these works, the artist blends the appeal of legendary Mercedes-Benz cars with the latest contemporary ideas from the worlds of art and fashion in an approach that is as enigmatic as it is elegant.
Fleury celebrates and demonstrates life as an obsession - she is fashion victim and passionate car buff, a keen admirer and connoisseur of art, an esoteric guru and apologist of »anything goes«.
The new Sylvie Fleury video works blends the appeal of legendary Mercedes-Benz automobiles - from Lightning Benz via Gullwing to C 111 - with the latest contemporary ideas from the worlds of art and fashion. At the historical Mercedes-Benz models' authentic locations in Stuttgart - the showrooms, workshops and test track of the Classic Centre in Fellbach near Stuttgart - Fleury has female models in trendy outfits conduct and perform classically 'male' activities in a kind of minimalist choreography: Gullwings rise and descend like futuristic angels; the models polish the gleaming curves of classic cars with their hands; cosmetics are crashed by wide racing tyres; engines are revved up; silver baubles are swept through the workshops. The models are actors at times and emotionless spectators at others. The conspicuous feature of all video works is the relinquishment of the eventful ›story‹ in favour of the simplest, stoically repeated actions and gestures. This gives the videos their spacey, surrealistic and somewhat occult character.
Shilpa Gupta's interactive video installation shows young women dressed in camouflage uniforms. Freed if its original purpose, clothing makes an effect that oscillates between military drill and fashionable accessory; however, fashion created the camouflage style from military uniforms.
This fashionable camouflage has several meanings in Gupta's work: it shows style being adopted, and counts as an expression of fashion awareness. On the other hand, clothing and behaviour articulate a demonstration against monopolization by the West.
The fact is that the commercialization of the world in which the younger Indian generation lives questions traditional identification patterns. Young adults in particular experience social change almost as personal liberation, but also as a danger that threatens to destroy society's key values.
The seven animated figures, which can be actively controlled by the visitors, move according to programmed commands. But the installation's language and music convey the message to yield defencelessly neither to the power of consumerism nor to politically motivated, ideological terror.