Christophe Clottes

J’ai pris la liberté de m’asseoir

      [I Took the Liberty of Sitting Down]

    10 000m2, 2017. Dandelion seeds,
35 x 25 x 20 cm in expansion. © Christophe Clottes, photo credit: Claire Colnot.

     D’un trait, 2017 (Detail) Continuous line drawn in marble powder on the ground
© Christophe Clottes

This text was commissioned by Documents d'artistes Nouvelle-Aquitaine and was partly realized during my residency Dissiper les masses mouvantes at La Chapelle Saint-Jacques centre d’art contemporain (Saint-Gaudens) in October 2021.
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Christophe Clottes

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Si seulement nous avions
le courage des oiseaux [English Version]

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The wind, however, remained extraordinarily manageable. It never blew with instability but with an always equal flow, it simply changed its beds, like a kind of torrent which undulates in sands. It passed with the same force from the East to the South to, shortly after, blow from the North without taking new violence in its swings.1
The freedom nestled in the wind, unpredictable, misunderstood remains a constant in Christophe Clottes' universe. If it is necessary for me to pass by an incipit borrowed from Jean Giono, misunderstood libertarian, forcible pacifist, it's because the work of Christophe Clottes is anchored and destabilizes. It calls for a physical and intellectual commitment of the viewers who face it. It is not docile. Delicate, opalescent, it does not give itself up at first sight, ignores the boxes. It requires time; to introduce it thus sets this scene.
Christophe Clottes mobilizes a committed work without being demanding. It is filled with poetry, that of the creator who contemplates, of the one who is silent when he thinks, of the rightness to move in and out of the world. I find in the drawings, installations, sounds, still and moving images the strength of a humility that pushes us to reflect, to philosophize, to be indignant. The artist points out a dysfunctional society, the imbalances of man with nature, the aberrations of modernity badly packed. Beware, Christophe Clottes is not an ascetic, he does not advocate a return to nature or the myth of the good savage. He is interested in the invisible, in the movements of almost nothing, in times, in the layout of things. The line, even if it does not represent anything, marks a border, an inside and an outside, it limits a space, even if it is open. It is then a question of choices, doubts, positions.

Christophe Clottes has integrated minimal and conceptual Art as carriers of freedom, as natural gestures. He has digested the walks and actions of Richard Long, Hamish Fulton, Denis Oppenheim, assimilated the happenings and the non-art of Fluxus. In the place of his contemporaneity, heir of the avant-gardes, the artist builds, performs, revolts in filigree. Thus, since the world in which we live is difficult to live in and we cannot leave it, the question is to know to what extent we can make it habitable, even if only for the brief duration of our ephemeral life. It is then that the vocation of the poet, the mission of the painter is born. Whatever his art, the artist soothes the world, he is precious in that he enriches the human heart.2

Christophe Clottes observes worlds through prisms linked to each other: from the habitat to the alive cell, from architectural forms3 to the displacements of rocks, aluminum frames, stars and gastropods. He works with communities of ants, bees, phasms, mice4, builds spaces, refuges, denounces and refuses the confinement that a system of constraints and hierarchies inevitably provides.
Although not being subject of the works nor in the heart of the creations, the presence of the body of the artist is however omnipresent there. He sows, gives life by the repetition of the size of a flint, the turning over of an evening primrose, the musicality of the stones, when he digs a furrow broad as his foot, piles coal, reduces the pebbles in pigments, assembles the skin of the cows5... His polymorphic artworks remind that the man is the nature becoming aware of itself.6

— Émilie Flory
Manosque, October 2021

1. Jean Giono, Pluie in Fragments d’un paradis, 1948
2. Natsume Sōseki, Kusamakura, 1906 [EV. The Three-Cornered World, 1965 & Kusamakura, 2008]
3. Reference to the artist's pieces: Cuisine de campagne (volume, 2013), Réinsertion (installation in situ, 2010), Paysage même (installation, 2020), Enveloppée (installation, 2004)
4. Reference to the artist's pieces: Écho erratique (wall drawing with protocol, 2017-18), Cadre et séchoir (video, 2004), Structure et des fourmis (video, 2004), Patelles (dessins et installation, 2021), Parcelle 146 section AB (installation, 2005), Phasmes (installation, 2011), Programme en cours (sculptures & installation, 2008)
5. Reference to the artist's pieces: Siffler sur les graines (wall installation, 2021), Mouvement lithique (musical performance, 2018), En cercle (installation in situ, 2021), Corps minéral (installation & two serigraphy series, 2018), Condition erratique (installation, 2011)
6. Élisée Reclus, L’Homme et la terre, 1905


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