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In Ardouvin's work dystopic paranoia is combined with his well-crafted, subtle sense of humour and incredible artistic reserve to produce invariably dramatic and challenging site-specific installations incorporating sculptural elements and sound. Ardouvin is not one for flamboyant representations or heroic art. He prefers to take an interest in 'losers', the flops of the show, festive misery and popular culture at its most pitiful. His installations are not cynical, but are beautiful and melancholic.
In Love Me Tender, 2001 four massive beams support a structure that surrounds a deserted bumper car allowing it very little space to move around. There is thus the idea of constraint, but at the same time the piece evokes the adolescent and recreational world of the fairground. For the background sound Ardouvin chose a slowed down version of 'Love Me Tender' adding a peculiar melancholy to the piece. He creates a scene of abandonment, of past glory as if the car is on display as something great from a bygone era.
Holidays, 1999 is a burned-out Ford Escort on a blue carpet as if in a car showroom. The unstable write-off, disturbing and fascinating, is presented on an invisible revolving plinth, a play on the classical display of sculpture. The gentle, rather tinny music is a song by Polnareff, 'Holidays', played backwards, creating a harsh and discordant atmosphere. Inside the car a disco light spins around flashing white light everywhere. We are hypnotized and dazzled by the repetitive music and the interplay of shadow and light, but ironically what we are witnessing is a somber spectacle of violence and desertion.
Ardouvin was recently commissioned by the MusĂ©e d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris to construct a piece to mark the reopening of the MusĂ©e in January 2006. For the installation he created a composition as calculated as one of Mondrian's dynamic equilibrium paintings, however, instead of painting Ardouvin hung rigid washing lines, covered with clothing, between the faux-columns of the MusĂ©e. The sculpture was lit at night as if it were the set for a play, lending it a false sense of drama. On Dirait le Sud, 2005 not only attempts to disrupt the faux-classical formalism of the Fascist architecture but also to reference towns, like Naples, where the grandeur and bureaucratic ambience of Fascist architecture was juxtaposed with extreme poverty.
The manipulation of music and sound plays a very important role for Ardouvin and features in many of his works. He focuses on sound as a material and on its effects on the perception of space. For his upcoming November exhibition at Museum 52 Ardouvin will transform the gallery into a dream like, depressed and decadent scene with the sound of thousands of peoples' whispers filling the room.
Ardouvin has exhibited at the Palais De Tokyo, Paris; SESAC, Turin; Les Revues Parlees, Centre G. Pompidou, Paris and Galerie Chez Valentin, Paris. He was commissioned in 2005 to make a large installation for the courtyard of the MusĂ©e d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris to coincide with the MusĂ©e's reopening in January 2006.
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