Tout est Bleu
Stems Gallery is pleased to announce “Tout est Bleu”, the first solo exhibition of the French artist Julien Boudet.
« Tout est Bleu » consists of a new body of work, including sculptures and installations, made during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, setting up his travelogue conducting in the spectrum of consumerism. Habitually an avid traveler, Boudet extended his travels to ‘inspiring’ countries such as Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, where traveling wasn’t restricted. Through his work, the artist investigates the influence of Western consumerism on the Mediterranean culture, where renowned brands and luxury logos are embedded in daily life.
Creating images with medium format film cameras, Boudet’s practice investigates overcrossings of consumerism, technology, culture, and media. By highlighting and recontextualizing luxury brands, his pictures put the ballast of these labels as a sign of desire – not just by celebrating the liturgy of consuming—but assuming these elements naturally as part of our lives. The duality between real and fake, counterfeit and authentic, are recurring themes for the artist who began to create and incorporate materials in his work to highlight the paradox of bootleg as a result of hyper-consumerism. The works approach the strain and displacements of our relations and coexistence with objects, ornaments and collective cultural imagination.
Julien Boudet’s love affair with logos stems from his deep attachment to street culture, hip hop, and graffiti, which began in his childhood, and has been present in his practice ever since. At the age of 17 he owned a fake LV monogram bag, his first encounter with collecting fashion – back then most of the fashion items he was surrounded with were bootlegged pieces coming from markets in Marseille or Paris. This experience offered the artist a true engagement with the ideas surrounding consumerism, and its effect onto brand identity circulating between the real and the fake. Using the same principle as bootleg, Boudet creates a new universe that goes further than the simple birth of logos and brands. Time after time, the artist dissects and recontextualizes the idolatry of branding, blurring the line between real and counterfeit, utilizing elements of seduction and at the same time irony. By strengthening and emphasizing it, Boudet plays with the re-circulation of these labels as communicational artefacts, in a way to propose alternative codes of representation which casts nowadays our fantasies, patterns of behaviours and experiences. Through this, Boudet succeeds in raising the question of truth, for something that is commonly mistaken as an ambiguity.
Having grown up in Sète, a port city in the South of France that marks the connection between France and Northwest Africa, Boudet’s practice is deeply influenced by the Mediterranean culture. In R21 LV Nevada, Boudet immortalizes these common scenes of overly packed cars preparing for back-and-forth boat trips to ‘le bled’ - an Arabic term used in French speaking countries to signify your place of origin. To further exemplify this blur in the notions of authentic and bootleg, Boudet uses real LV bags to recreate a scene commonly experienced by the working class.
Other logos from brands like Louis Vuitton, Porsche and BMW are revisited by the artist as the key elements of authenticity. The Louis Vuitton logo, for instance, dates back as far as 1896 and was introduced partly to ward off counterfeiters. Paradoxically, the “L” and “V” is the most faked feature of the luxury label. In a similar fashion, the artist mimics on these symbols of luxury and prestige in his work Seaux LV.
A central component of Boudet’s work is Nike. The Swoosh must be one of the – if not, the - most recognizable fashion logos ever made. Representing the wing of Nike (the Greek goddess of Victory), the design stands today for speed, power, movement and motivation, with their signature catch phrase ‘Just do it’.
Aquarium de Requins, featuring a mix of authentic and counterfeit Nike ‘Air Max Plus’, becomes a play on the marketing strategy used by Nike to officially adopt the nickname ‘requin’ (shark) given by the streets and that spread throughout France before Internet became the norm. The TN model is a symbol of rarity, of unique design that revolutionized the market of sneakers, it is also the only pair of shoes with a recognized nickname. These shoes demonstrate the importance of street culture onto fashion and consumerism. With the nickname ‘requin’, an aggressive yet quick and strong animal, the shoes become synonym to those attributes in the streets.
Another recurring element in Boudet’s work are motorcycles. Symbols of speed and strength, Boudet features a TMAX bike, the most powerful scooter on the market, the most stolen on the street, in essence, the Mercedes of bikes. Exhibited as an icon, Boudet wishes to show off the flashy attributes of the TMAX, indicating that the TMAX is in its most attractive outfit. Ténéré Bleu NFS is a very personal work, symbol of the union between France and Morocco, an iconic element of the Paris-Dakar rally, and the bike with which the artist’s father passed away.
In collaboration with Samuel Fasse, the artists developed a collaborative series of sculptures, putting forth their mutual interest and passion for the modes of representation and subjectivities related to fashion. Clothes, whether in sculptural or photographic works, characterize their approach to societal and relational codes. While Boudet likes to emphasize and exacerbate fashion logos, Fasse prefers to conceal them, presenting a more symbolic and indirect reinterpretation of the market in his work. This being said, this framework composed of logos and other symbolic pieces, is nothing more than a way to play and have fun with these codes while traveling through different worlds.
“Tout est Bleu” portrays a logbook of these relocations that can draw a territory not only defined by its border, but also the encounter of western and Mediterranean culture. Rather than a claim to luxury or fashion, the artist offers a creative interpretation of its codes, where the symbols are re-interpreted as a dystopic yet playful paradox of society.
Julien Boudet (b.1985, France) attended Parson school of Design (2013). He has exhibited his work at multiple Burberry flagship stores (2018) and la Chapelle du Quartier Haut (2018). His work has been included in group shows at MoMa (2017), Fashion Space Gallery (2020), Blum and Poe (2020) and Stems Gallery (2020). Boudet is regularly published in avant-garde magazines, commissioned by prominent fashion houses, he brings high concept to commercial photography, highlighting cultural and creative leaders for publications such as Vogue, GQ, Elle and Highsnobiety, among others.
Samuel Fasse (b. 1995, France) is a multimedia artist who lives and works in Paris. His work focuses on the possibilities offered by the body as an instrument of creation. He perceives new technologies as tools leading to the design and understanding of a new corporality. This multiform and collaborative approach leads him to conceive a plural work, where corporeity is the main component. Fasse received his BFA from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp (2017). He has had solo exhibitions at Nicoletti Contemporary (2019), AMAC Projects Gallery (2019) & Joyce Gallery in Paris (2018). His works has also been included in group shows at Galleria Continua (2020), XC.HuA Gallery in Berlin (2020), LetUsIn (2019), Bubenberg (2018) and Galerie Charraudeau (2018). Fasse has performed at the Isla Festival (2019), at SeptCinq (2018) and Palais de Tokyo (2017).