Insomniac Rationality

about Gilles Barbier

It is not the slumber of reason that engenders monsters,
but vigilant and insomniac rationality

By using different media, such as sculpture, installation, drawing and photography, Gilles Barbier draws inspiration from forms essentially derived from science fiction, films, novels and comic books, but also from one of his fundamental principles: the ability to create other realities, other worlds that collide, even compete with ours, in the manner of a metalepsis — figure of speech in which a word or a phrase from figurative speech is used in a new context — that would be not literary, but plastic. The disruptive logic is pushed to its extremes by the artist with the creation of a humanity of clones to his effigy.

This “pack” — to use the term used by Gilles — to facetious humor is a form of psychobiography that illustrates the multiplicity of his being, and more widely of being, in the extension of the analyzes developed by Deleuze and Guattari in Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia about “schizoanalysis” — a militant social and political analysis that responds to what they see as the reactionary tendencies of psychoanalysis.

The most famous work by Gilles depicts the superheroes of the so-called Golden Age — the mid-1930s to the 50s — finally showing their age. The sculptural installation L’Hospice finds Superman bespectacled and hobbling about on a Zimmer frame, Catwoman wrinkled and slumped comatose in front of the TV and Captain America bloated on a gurney with a drip running out of his arm. Superlative characters, historically engaged in the struggle against the forces of evil, superheroes now embody the metaphor of an America fallen from its omnipotence. Falsely ingenuous, Gilles says about them: “I gave them the age of their arteries.”

This work, flavour of the month for a while on such click-hungry websites as Trendhunter and Io9, nonetheless provides an immediate portal into some of the Marseilles-based artist’s central preoccupations: time and its suspension, and the fantasy space between the two.


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  1. Insomniac Rationality — Dioniso Punk – Evaporata


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