Yves Scherer’s Where is the love exhibition, running at Paris’ EXO from September 17 to 24, presents fragments from a recent trip to Beijing, Hong Kong and Thailand taken from his personal archive. They’re fragments, which might appear to have but a thin thread connecting them, but they also show the push of dominant contemporary cultural structures and conventions towards an understanding of the self as mutable or undefined.
Scherer presents three works, one of which you encounter as soon as you enter the space. There’s a clothes line hanging so low you have to look down to view the sketches hung on it. On the floor, at the centre, the viewer finds a partially exposed counterfeit Prada handbag in an original Prada shopping one that the artist bought in Beijing. Supported by a beam, a video work called ‘Cry Me A River’ hangs high above it –inaccessible and out of reach –featuring personal footage of the artist’s recent trip to Thailand. It’s been edited into a remake of the Justin Timberlake song of the same name, while the exhibition title in turn references a Black Eyed Peas track, featuring vocals from the aforementioned pop artist.
A series of sketches and plans are presented on Royal Plaza Hotel paper and hung on the clothes line, tied to a moped scooter. Although the notepad suggests that Scherer was staying or visiting the hotel, the emphasis is not on the notepad’s authenticity, but rather on how we look at an object such as this one, as it exists in the world.
In the ‘Cry Me A River’ video most shots are taken on a beach or resort and depict three characters on holiday singing to the Justin Timberlake song. Through this act, there is a demarcation, an active taking charge that affirms difference through the gesture of sameness. Scherer’s intervention exists within a contemporary discourse on ethics and form. His questioning of the boundaries between real and non-real, authentic and inauthentic, are continually being stretched, his mode of resistance being to put in place a structure of reappropriation.
Going back to the counterfeit Prada bag inside the original bag, it sheds light on how increasingly difficult it is to regard the authentic and the inauthentic as a traditional dichotomy. Not only does the distinction become blurred, at one point it is non-existent. Once the traditional dialectic is disrupted, the ‘Other’ is no longer recognisable through empirical referents, thus resulting in an unfixed understanding of the self. The critical distance that is needed to rationalize the Real, cannot exist once the Real has been replaced by another that is as accurate as the Real itself. The experience and its trace in time becomes more object-centred, its manifestation is a physical one; the private or public discourse around a culture for consumerism becoming embedded within it. **
Exhibition photos, top right.
Yves Scherer’s Where is the Love was held at Paris, Exo, running from September 17 to September 24, 2015.
Header image: Yves Scherer, Where is the love (2015). Exhibition view. Courtesy Exo, Paris.