by Sue Williamson (September, 2007)
The work of young artist Pierre Fouché is a coded exploration both of the desire of society to classify its members into categories, and of his own homosexuality. Fouché conducts this exploration largely through an examination of personal relationships, often using images based on photographs from his own and his family's photo albums.
The different processes by which Fouché deconstructs these visual representations to remove them from the immediacy of the photographic suggests a cool analytic approach to images that depend for their potency on body language. The homo erotic is always suggested rather than explicit, presented at a careful remove from the viewer.
Fouché achieves this distance by engaging in processes which break down his chosen images into small building blocks, only to be reassembled into a screened version of the original according to strict rules devised by the artist. This working method is often revealed by framing the work so it hangs free in the space, showing Fouché�s production notations, as it were, on the reverse of the image.
This method suggests, perhaps, the random yet precise selection process by which our DNA determines our essential natures.
In the place of an artist's statement, Fouché chose to send a series of quotes.
'I resolved to start my inquiry with no more than a few photographs, the ones I was sure existed for me. Nothing to do with a corpus: only some bodies. In this (after all) conventional debate between science and subjectivity, I had arrived at this curious notion: why mightn't there be, somehow, a new science for each object? A mathesis singularis (and no longer universalis)?' - Roland Barthes
'[I]dentifications belong to the imaginary; they are phantasmic efforts of alignment, loyalty, ambiguous and cross-corporeal cohabitation; they unsettle the "I"; they are the sedimentation of the "we" in the constitution of any "I". Identifications are never fully and finally made; they are incessantly reconstituted and, as such, are subject to the volatile logic of iterability. They are that which is constantly marshalled, consolidated, retrenched, contested, and, on occasion, compelled to give away.' - Judith Butler
'It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world within words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled' - John Berger
'I see only from one point, but in my existence I am looked at from all sides' - Jacques Lacan
'These pictures from my real life, are supposed to make me believe that my real life is somehow something more, lighter, that is has more beautiful moments than it actually does. I have to convince myself of that' - Jack Pierson
'Our lives are now entwined' - Patti Smith
Fouché is this year's winner of the prestigious ABSA L'Atelier award, given to a young artist. The prize includes a six month stint at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, where Founche will go in 2008, an air ticket, and a cash award of R100 000 for living expenses.
The work for which this award was given was a tapestry canvas entitled The distance between us III, worked in stranded cottons in 110 colours. The image is one of his father and a friend, taken by his mother when they were on honeymoon. It is a beach scene, the friend is holding a surf board and has his elbow on Fouché senior's shoulder. The image appealed to Fouché because it recalled a stereotypical homo erotic scene of the boys on the beach - the iconography is almost stock - 'and then it's my father. It cannot be, but the photograph shows that it is. It seems as if my dad was just shying away, very slightly.'
The intricacy of the stitching, the fine colouration, the time-consuming and traditional nature of the handwork, which took months to execute, invest the piece with a classic timelessness that invites a much closer examination of its nuances than if it had been simply a blow up of an old photograph.
As a performance during the Cape '07 visual art festival in March this year, Fouché presented Love and Misery at the Bijou Art Studios. Fouché lipsynched the words to harrowing love songs, dealing with the breakup of a relationship. The songs chosen were those which had been important to the artist in an ended affair, and by acting them out again and again, he attempted to purge the songs of their power to move him. 'The songs functioned like snapshots in their effect on me'.
Two earlier pieces in The distance between us series, I and II, again used the technique of deconstruction. No I was executed using a found cardboard jigsaw puzzle, with the image of two men painted onto every second puzzle piece. For II (2003-4), presented at the Bell Roberts Gallery in Cape Town, Fouché used 6 000 red dice with white dots, using the faces with sixes for the lightest areas, and those with ones for the darkest.
The element of chance, of putting together the pieces of a puzzle and leaving blank rows are all integral parts of the artist's conceptual framework.
In November 2007, Fouché will take part in a group show curated by Jackie McInnes which will coincide with 16 days of activism against women and child abuse. The curatorial focus of the exhibition is an engagement with the campaign from an all-male perspective. he venue is the Johannesburg Art Gallery.
Following his residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts next year, Fouché will hold a solo exhibition at the Bell-Roberts Gallery in Cape Town.
Born 1977 - lives and works in Cape Town
Education: University of Stellenbosch: MA in Fine Art (cum laude) 2006
2006 'The distance between us', Bell-Roberts, Cape Town
2005 'Excluded & Unsaid', blankprojects, Cape Town
2007 'Love & misery', Bijou Art Studios, Cape Town (A non-gendered drag performance-art project)
2006 'Take it like a man', blankprojects, Cape Town (Workshop and exhibition of Polaroid photography by male sex-workers)
2004 'LVJ+MJB XXX', Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, Oudtshoorn (as part of the D.I.E.N.S-collective: a personals ad asking people to send the pet names of their lovers via text message for a terms of endearment-lexicon written on bunting.)
2007 BSA L'Atelier regional finalists exhibitions, Art-B, Bellville
ABSA Gallery, Pretoria
2007 'Portrait/Landscape', Bell-Roberts, Lourensford, Somerset West
2005 ABSA L'Atelier regional finalists exhibitions, Art-B, Bellville
ABSA Gallery, Pretoria
2005 'Paper never lies', VEO Art Warehouse, Cape Town
2004 Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, Oudtshoorn (as part of the D.I.E.N.S-collective)
2004 Sex & Kultuur Queer Arts Festival, AMAC, Cape Town
2000 'Softserve 2: Art at play', National Gallery, Cape Town
1999 'Softserve multimedia art event', National Gallery, Cape Town
1997 District Six Public Sculpture Festival, Cape Town (as part of the Stellenbosch Paper Project)
2007 Overall winner: ABSA L'Atelier Award