22.11.2022 Lecture

    Claire Fontaine

    Claire Fontaine is a feminist, conceptual artist, founded in Paris in 2004 by Fulvia Carnevale and James Thornhill, an Italian-British artist duo who declared themselves her assistants. Since 2018 Claire Fontaine lives and works in Palermo and has a studio in the historical centre of the Kalsa near Piazza Magione.

    After lifting her name from a popular brand of French school notebooks and stationary, Claire Fontaine declared herself a readymade artist and began to elaborate a version of neo-conceptual art that often looks like other people’s work. Claire Fontaine translated into English means “Clear Fountain” and can also be conceptually linked to the artwork Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, known as the most famous readymade.

    Claire Fontaine uses the concept of the readymade as a way of criticising “production” disguised as a creation of more and more artefacts that are desirable because they superficially appear as new. Generally she works with appropriation on a formal level and she hijacks contents, using sculpture, installation, video and painting to create an emotionally loaded criticism of the author and the forms of authority at this stage of capitalism. This aesthetic approach that she describes as “expropriation”, a way of giving an existential use value to pre-existing objects and artworks, also addresses the general crisis of singularity, which she describes as the individual and collective impossibility to give a meaning to one’s life under the current political circumstance and the systematic surveillance, repression and countless limitations of our freedom. Claire Fontaine prefers to integrate the existing art circuit to create complicities and foster change which entails partaking in the mechanisms and subjects of the art industry including collectors, dealers and institutions.

    In an Interview with Circa Art Magazine in 2008 she states: “I think forming gangs, mafias, collectives, networks, bands of people is a way to survive in the hostile capitalist system and then eventually a way to become a pressure group, in order to transform these particular conditions.”

    Writing and text based pieces play an important role in Claire Fontaine’s work. She distributes texts in her exhibitions and she uses different registers in her writing such as poetry, critical theory, essays and manifestos. The artist criticises the hierarchy between visual and verbal expression.

    In February 2020 she was invited by Maria Grazia Chiuri to create the mise-en-scène for Dior’s Autumn/Winter 2020 collection for Paris Fashion Week which took place in the Les Tuileries. The artist used the catwalk to perform an operation of Institutional Critique investing the floor and the ceiling; she presented Newsfloor (Le Monde Pixelisé) (2020) and several large suspended LED signs stating for example: Patriarchy Kills Love, When women strike the world stops, Feminine beauty is a ready-made or Patriarchy = Climate emergency.