Florian Pugnaire and David Raffini – l’étrangère Gallery
Florian Pugnaire and David Raffini
19 January – 3 March 2018
l’étrangère presents an exhibition of recent film and sculptural work by French artists Florian Pugnaire and David Raffini. Entitled Show Me it features Expanded Crash (Show Me) (2016), along with the award-winning film Dark Energy (2012). Pugnaire and Raffini’s collaborative practice has received international recognition with exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and Centre Pompidou, Paris, which holds their work in its collection.
Expanded Crash (Show Me) is a film whose protagonist is the carcass of an Opel-GT that transforms itself into a sculpture. With the help of a device hidden in the passenger compartment, the racing car ‘performs’, comes to life, begins to ‘breath’ then gradually expands, stretches and tears its body. The action references the cult 1983 film by John Carpenter, Christine, in which a classic 1950s car, a Plymouth Fury, turns into a murderous machine with an astonishing ability to self-rebuild. Expanded Crash (Show Me) reverses the process into self-destruction.
The work also refers to the fantasy of the living machine, extremely present in the collective imagination, and records the creation of a sculpture as a residual object with the eerie, apocalyptic atmosphere typical of the artists’ work. The film evokes the end of days, getting progressively more lost in a decaying world full of empty, abandoned buildings, burned carcasses, and darkly worrying landscapes.
Dark Energy is a video work showing a Volkswagen Transporter truck being violently destroyed, compacted, exploded and burnt. In an atmosphere reminiscent of a road movie, a Western or a science-fiction film, it records the successive stages of the truck’s metamorphosis into a sculpture.
Pugnaire and Raffini’s collaborative practice is particularly concerned with rendering visible the mutation of objects, whilst investigating the nature of material morphologies. In terms of the objects they choose to transform, they see engines of various sorts as symbolising mankind’s technological development. They blow them up or transform them in all sorts of ways, so that the materials are submitted to various transformative, often violent forces before being reborn in new shapes.
Pugnaire and Raffini play with the idea of an object generating its own various alterations — transfiguring and evolving within its own skin, of its own accord. These material transformations sometimes take on a fictional dimension in the production of a film, whilst their sculptural works appear to be remnants of an event (a crash or catastrophe). Many appear to be frozen in the middle of a physical transformation — unfinished, they have an air of being consciously self-inflicted by the object itself.