16.04.2024 Pavillon Français, Venise #art

Julien Creuzet

“Attila cataract your source at the feet of the green peaks will end up in the great sea blue abyss we drowned in the tidal tears of the moon.”

Julien Creuzet is representing France at this year’s Venice Biennale, the 60th edition of the International Art Exhibition. Born in 1986 just outside of Paris, in the suburb of Le Blanc Mesnil, the Franco-Caribbean artist is currently based in Montreuil. Through a varied range of artistic supports, he creates unique miscellaneous encompassing videos, installations and sculptures, but also poetry, music and cinema. In the context of the fair, he speaks particularly of transoceanic postcolonial exchanges in their multiple temporalities. His very own heritage is at the heart of this project, helping him illustrate and address current issues in a manner that avoids a head-on confrontation. It is rather through the melody of his stories and the enveloping softness of his plastic works that Julien Creuzet captivates us, and makes us dream, even dance, before opening up the discussion… We met the artist during the opening last April 17th in Venice.

“The body is encouraged to wander freely, to move, rest and perhaps even dance”

 This pavilion is very rich both visually and formally, blending installations and sculptures with video and sound pieces, as well as olfactory ones. How did you design it?

Julien Creuzet :

There are many ways of approaching an artwork, which will ultimately determine its form. This particular project was about interrogating what Venice represents. First of all, I questioned myself and my relationship with the city, I looked at the way I situated myself here as an individual. So I examined my feel of the streets…  the signs I saw…  paying attention to all, from tall sculptures to the smallest effigies. I am for instance fascinated by the motifs that adorn the Venetian bridges, which show the extent to which the city decided to push the utopia of being able to live on and with water. In a certain way, and since long ago, it has to ask for some sort of clemency, which is reflected through symbols that can be found in the city or in the paintings in museums, such as in the Palazzo Ducale, where fantastic representations bear witness to this relationship with Venice.

At the same time, this pavilion is also imbued with your own history and origins, strongly present in your work. Moreover, the inaugural press conference was held in Martinique, in Edouard Glissant’s house. Was this return to the roots a necessary step to address the ecological issue?

Julien Creuzet :

Should we stop flying when we live 8000 kilometres away? Don’t these overseas departments belong to France? What about the two million citizens who live there and need basic supplies and commodities, but lack medical tools?  How are young people and artists treated there? All these thoughts are also part of my work so yes, indeed, it was a deliberate choice to bring journalists on-site for the inaugural presentation of my work at the Biennale.  On a broader level, the idea was to initiate a dialogue that would stimulate a restorative and saving reflection. 

In your videos, we hear you singing, in French and Creole, evoking a mantra. Does poetry make it easier to address anxiety-provoking subjects while looking at the past, particularly colonial history?

Julien Creuzet :

I am indeed talking not only about one France but several ones. In the end, I’m dealing with a language with intrinsic particularities. Then there are the real problems, such as the lobbies that dominate energy issues. It’s impossible to tackle the ecological issue without a certain degree of hypocrisy, so I believe that we have to accept the world we live in, with all its paradoxes. Take this interview for instance, it is recorded with a smartphone which has a lithium battery, perhaps collected from mines in the Congo by children who will probably die much younger than us because they have been damaged and poisoned in some way. Reflecting on ecology, which is halfway between ultra-right radicalism and ultra-left paradoxes, demands us to be extremely vigilant. There is a kind of confinement being established. But if we really want to live together, should we stop travelling or should we instead question the energy lobbies? And what about the praise for slowness that we tried to introduce during and after the pandemic?…

For the video works, but also your sculptures from different materials and typologies, you seem to have enjoyed playing with technology and mixing virtuality and craftsmanship…

Julien Creuzet :

The subject isn’t technology itself, I see it as a tool that should remain as it is, but which nevertheless allows us to push our exploration of beauty and form further. Thanks to these tools, we can virtually move an old monument from the depths of the Jardin du Luxembourg and bring it with us to Venice… Thus, I was able to bring back here this statuary that Carpeaux drew with his continent allegories…Almost like by teleportation and I find it fantastic. I can imagine the love and cherubs allegories of the Pont Alexandre III or the lampposts with the boats of Place de la Concorde. Very simply, I can question our history or our economic and political nerve centre. For my videos and my sculptures, I was able to work on details, amplify them, show them differently, and immerse them in the forest or water. I wanted to create an exhibition that would be lived, a place where we could question ourselves and feel things.

Your work also involves an unapologetic criticism of the authority figure. Do you think that artists are assuming again a let’s say “more engaged” role nowadays? 

Julien Creuzet :

I think that the artist never lost his role, but we must make a distinction between art and the art market.  These are two different elements and we need to be able to move from one world to another, from one space to another. I don’t believe there is one contemporary art, but several contemporary arts, in the plural, and the idea is to be able to cross these scenes. then the question of fashion and taste constantly changes.

Do you have a favourite spot in the French Pavilion? Any room that you are particularly moved by…

Julien Creuzet :

Nothing is dissociable, so I could say everything… I wanted it to be a complete experience for the visitor, even if certain works can detach themselves. I thought about it from different points of view and this question of the exhibit, in its entirety with sound and image, interests me enormously. The body is brought to be able to wander like it wishes, to move, to rest and maybe even dance. Then, with the catalogue, which is a set of texts in different languages, with common poetic, literary or cinematographic imaginations, we wanted to reach out to those who wouldn’t be able to visit the exhibition or will extend it. The sonic reader reunites audio clips that are shared on social media. May these emotions of the sea and water be diffused and multiplied …. ad infinitum. 


Interview by Marie Maertens

Exhibition “Attila cataract your source at the feet of the green peaks will end up in the great sea blue abyss we drowned in the tidal tears of the moon.” at the French Pavillon, Venise

Photos: Ludovica Arcero & Michael Huard


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