Into – triptic : Into the void – Into the pool – Into the pit
3 channels Video installation
Variable measures, 20’, HD videos 16/9, stereos
Edition of 3 + 2 a.p.
Julien Devaux (born in 1975 in Tournai Belgium) takes some of Bas Jan Ader’s performances and gives them life once again, in a different body, a different place (Casa Wabi, Oaxaca Mexico) and above all, a different era of the world, the society and the Art. Julien makes a series of videos and photography pieces referencing Ader’s artworks but not from the Romantic and deadly serious point of view of the Dutch artist, but with a playful irony that so characterizes Devaux’s work. Because sometimes critical thought can be expressed by humor. Sometimes irony is the way that can unsettle and confront obsolete conducts and practices within the actual world of Contemporary art.
As a kind of footnote, Bas Jan Ader was an artist that dedicated his art to expose a peculiar condition of the human spirit through the metaphor of “The Fall”. He enacted and filmed the experience of his own body falling. His experiments later included other objects as well. The concept of “The Fall” as a metaphor of failing weights even heavier coming from a Dutch artist living in Los Angeles around the 60s and 70s. Ader can easily personify what was left of the Romantic era crashing with the Californian suburban lifestyle.
Let’s describe some of Ader’s performances. The artist rolls down a roof and falls from its edge all the way to the ground. The artist hangs clinging to a tree branch until his hands get so tired that he lets the branch go and falls into the river below. The artist bikes beside a water canal when suddenly drives his bicycle right into the stream. The artists rides vigorously his bike directly into the sea.
In some of the examples above the emotional accents of Ader’s artwork are clearer and plainly integrate the metaphor of the existential failure. The artist loses his strengths and falls victim of a miracle’s quest.
Now, “Into triptych: Into the void/Into the pool/Into the pit” (2016) is a piece by Julien Devaux in which we, the spectators, encounter three different scenes playing at the same time and side by side in three different channels. The three of them were filmed by a fixed camera, with an interest in the balanced plasticity of the background elements such as landscape, architecture and geometry.
“Into the void”. In this scene the artist slowly makes a pile of puffs in the middle of a narrow passageway enclosed by two tall walls. He disappears from the shot as soon as the pile is finished, appearing later on the top of one of the concrete walls from where he throws himself into the void. He lands softly on the pile of puffs and leaves the scene unharmed.
“Into the pool”. Here the artist bikes alongside the edge of a pool changing the direction of the ride in the middle of the way and falling into the pool. The shot witness Julian Devaux getting calmly out of the water and walking away.
“Into the pit”. In this shot two Mexican men are building a wooden structure over a pit subsequently leaving when it’s finished. Julien Devaux enters the scene, grabs the horizontal pole of the structure and lets his body hang from it, with the pit at his feet. After some minutes he falls, disappearing completely into the deepness of the pit.
Although the three shots are playing at the same time, they follow the sequential order of a comic strip, sort of speak. Julien leaves one scene, to appear in the next one, and time keeps naturally running in the other two. In this way the traces of his actions are left behind him, as a reminder of the artistic path that, in contrast with Ader’s work, continues without a strict shadow of fatality until the end. The final scene, on the other hand, gives a turn to the unknown. Devaux disappears into the pit… and that’s all folks.
Luis Felipe Ortega
Date: December 1, 2017