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READYMADE EMOTIONS

LocationT293, Rome
Date10 November - 7 December
In Readymade emotions, her fifth exhibition at T293, Claire Fontaine uses a technical and theoretical procedure based on the reinvestment of existing forms and the activation of existential use values within images. Infrathin is something barely perceivable. According to Duchamp, it is the potential of any object that allows the artist to transform it into a readymade. According to Perec, the infra-ordinary is instead what makes the everyday wonderful, it is also the banal, the opposite of the exceptional. To prove his point, Perec collected and transcribed the texts of postcards bought at the flea market. However singular and different everyone's holidays were, the words used to describe them, in the small space of the card, were practically always the same. If we collected messages on our cell phones today we would probably have a very similar experience. Words still seem equally unsuitable, now as much as in the past, to faithfully describe our emotions in the absence of the body and the voice. Partly for the love of concision and partly out of shyness, we prefer now to use prefabricated images (literally readymade, ready for use): the emojis. Vladimir Nabokov, in 1969 declared in an interview to the New York Times: « I often think that there should be a special typographical sign to indicate a smile, perhaps a sort of concave sign, a supine round bracket ». On September 19, 1982, Dr. Scott Fahlman, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, officially created it. « I propose – he wrote – the following sequence of characters to highlight the joke :-) ». The first set of emojis, 176 smileys and objects, ancestors of the ones we use today, were created in Japan in 1999 by Shigetaka Kurita (since 2016 it has become part of the Moma collection).

We have learned to appropriate these metonymies of readymade emotions, the same for everyone but unique for each life, exactly as we did for language. The words to express ourselves are identical for everyone and the reason why we understand them is precisely that they belong to each of us, they are a common heritage and the object of continuous exchange between anyone who shares the use of a language. Our simplest and most immediate experience of the common as a vital resource now extends for the first time to ready-to-use drawings: emojis are our hieroglyphics, pictograms to describe the spiritual and the trivial. In her research on the transubstantiation of the digital, through the materialization of virtual forms (anti-nft), Claire Fontaine transforms three emojis into luminous sculptures.

Melting Point, On Fire and Left & Right. The melting yellow smiley - inspired by Dalì's clocks in The Persistence of Memory - was often used during the summer of 2023, the hottest in the history of humanity, still dragging on into a strange autumn where cherry trees are blossoming; On Fire portrays the flame often used as a positive comment, but also reminiscent in recent months of wars, and fires caused by climate change; Left & Rightfeatures raised hands showing palms in approval or surrender. Order 1, 2 and 3 originate from urban landscapes devastated by gentrification, characterized by visually intense changes, overloaded with commercial semiotics. The phenomenon of food delivery epithomizes it all. Groups of people in fluorescent uniforms on bicycles or scooters wait outside restaurants or swarm dangerously in traffic, evoking the loneliness, tiredness and resignation of those who order and the precariousness, poverty and risks of those who deliver. The bags that weigh on these exploited bodies have multiple functions, in addition to that of a container, they are brand advertisements and reflective tools to stay alive in traffic. With Order 1, 2 and 3 Claire Fontaine creates a monument to different delivery bags by reproducing them to scale through different canvases assembled together. Recalling the chairs of Art & Language, Order 1, 2 and 3 freely take up objects whose appearance is entirely dictated by their function, as happens with all readymades. In transforming their monochromatic presence into sculptures composed of paintings, Claire Fontaine also portrays their logos or part of them, making the object simultaneously recognizable as a reproduction and ambiguous advertisement of the ongoing disaster. Italy (Unburnt/Burnt) is a work composed of thousands of matches planted in the wall to form the map of Italy which will be superstitiously set on fire. Fontana Luminosa (Marco) explores, within the repertoire of existing forms the illuminations of the Apulian patronal festivals, the image of the fountain of hope, also taking up the poetry of Jalal ad-Din Rumi, the famous Persian mystical poet of the thirteenth century and follower of Sufism. In the text of Become a Sea we read: “Every form you see draws its origin from the unseen divine world. So if the form vanishes, what does it matter? Its origin was from the Eternal. Do not grieve that every form you see, every mystical truth you hear will one day vanish. The Fountain is always gushing water. Neither Fountain nor water will ever stop flowing, so why mourn? Your spirit is a fountain; river after river flow from it, put all mourning out of your mind forever and keep on drinking from the water. Do not be afraid. The water is limitless.”



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Claire Fontaine

On Fire

2023
shaped lightbox, digital print, dimmer, transformer and cables
114 × 88 × 9.5 cm (44 ⅞ × 34 ⅝ × 3 ¾ inches)
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Claire Fontaine

Italy (burnt/unburnt)

2011
matchsticks
wall: 500 × 400 cm (196 ⅞ × 157 ½ inches)
Edition of 1 plus I AP
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Fontana Luminosa (Marco)

2023
traditional Sicilian festival signage, wooden frame, led lamps, cables and transformer
310 × 162 × 10 cm (122 × 63 ¾ × 3 ⅞ inches)
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Claire Fontaine

Left & Right

2023
shaped lightbox, digital print, dimmer, transformer and cables
70 × 100 × 9.5 cm (27 ½ × 39 ⅜ × 3 ¾ inches)
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Claire Fontaine

Melting point

2023
shaped lightbox, digital print, dimmer, transformer and cables
104 × 103 × 9.5 cm (41 × 40 ½ × 3 ¾ inches)
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Claire Fontaine

Order (Deliveroo)

2023
eight stretchers, acrylic paint on canvas, and velcro
50 × 44 × 44 cm (19 ⅝ × 17 ⅜ × 17 ⅜ inches)
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Claire Fontaine

Order (Glovo)

2023
eight stretchers, acrylic paint on canvas, and velcro
50 × 44 × 44 cm (19 ⅝ × 17 ⅜ × 17 ⅜ inches)
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Claire Fontaine

Order (Glovo)

2023
eight stretchers, acrylic paint on canvas, and velcro
50 × 44 × 44 cm (19 ⅝ × 17 ⅜ × 17 ⅜ inches)

Past Exhibitions