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Didier Courbot

June 21, 2012

Didier Courbot works with a range of media—sculpture, video, photography—to document the urban environment with an extraordinary sensitivity. His recreations of specific elements and his subtle interventions draw attention to the forgotten and discarded. Courbot has been included in exhibitions at the Jeu de Paume, Paris; the Moscow Museum of Art; the Kunsthalle Bern; the 2005 Yokohama Triennale; and Susan Hobbs Gallery, Toronto, among others. Always Working, a group show at Access Gallery curated by Gabrielle Moser, is the first exhibition of his work in Vancouver.

1. Isamu Noguchi gardens and public works: From ground floor to sky.

Years ago I discovered the works of Isamu Noguchi by chance. Despite the fact that France commissioned his first garden - the Unesco garden - he is not very well known here for his public works. We used to think of him as a follower of Brancusi (he was the sculptor's assistant for a few months). However, considering his entire career, it’s obvious that Noguchi is one of the most important artists of the XX century. When paying attention to his public works and gardens, you realize that he understands everything. To him sculpture is a space in which we are acting. In his gardens, the ground floor, benches, stones, lights and everything else become a part of a single sculptural work.

2. Ford Mustang: What is so special with this car?

I hate cars. It would take too long to explain why. My reasons are personal and moral. I believe that the car industry has totally changed our way of living, especially in the city. For decades now, cities have been designed around cars, not around our needs for living. And it's silly to think North American cities aren't very different from the Europeans ones where I’m from. It's useless to compare them. Here people have more space, distances are bigger, even crossing a wide city is simply easier in a car than by walking. (I’m intentionally not mentioning the great public transports here that are a part of the answer.) But why do we still have to stand this culture around cars that makes us think cars are simple toys without considering all the wrong aspects in it? And now here is my problem: I love the Ford Mustang from 2005. Why is that? Am I sick? Or am I admitting that cars are also the expression of our illusion of human freedom?

3. Aldo Van Eyck's playgrounds: A different face of the city.

I discovered Aldo Van Eyck not so long ago. He's become one of my obsessions. I’m looking forward to seeing his few remaining playgrounds in the Netherlands. He designs playgrounds in very simple ways. After the Second World War many things had to be reconstructed in the Netherlands. At that time Van Eyck started designing them in the heart of the city. Children were not in protected and closed areas but in gardens that were a part of the city. He is also famous for designing a space for showing sculptures with very simple materials, mostly concrete blocks, in the Kroller Muller Park.

4. Carl Aubock & Andrea Branzi vases: What's a vase?

These two people have the fact they have designed beautiful vases in common. The Double Noose vase by Carl Auböck responds to a very simple idea: to show the beauty of only one flower. The vase could still tend to be less but succeeds in this attempt. The vase then disappears behind the flower and becomes more like a prosthesis. Andrea Branzi has designed some vases as architecture. I’m not crazy about all his vases, but the most architectural ones show the flowers as a part of something and not as the essential thing. This also reminds me of some works from Josef Hoffmann. He designed very architectural items for the Wiener Werkstätte. Looking at his fruits bowl and vases, for example, you feel you are more in front of architecture than in front of a traditional objects.

5. Cheeseburger Hit List: Curiosity

I love the Hit List. The problem is how to clarify why you like these things and how to choose only five. I thought about including Robert Therrien, Charles Ray, Donald Judd’s furniture, Franz West, Giacometti’s lamps, Joep Van Lieshout, Vancouver’s trees, skateboards, my future wife, my kids, Daniel Darc, Arthur H, Wilco, David Burliuk, Jouy textile, Sean Penn in This Must Be the Place, Buck 65, RJD2, Prefuse 73, Yves Saint Laurent, the cheese burger we had with Yann in Vancouver at the baseball game we saw last Sunday, Gio Ponti, Dagobert Peche, Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless, Haruki Murakami, Atom Boy... ahh, but I have only 500 words. Too bad.



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