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Hoël Duret
 
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La Vie Héroïque de B.S. : Un opéra en 3 actes, 2013 - 2015
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La Vie Héroïque de B.S. - Un opéra en 3 actes, 2013 - 2015, HD video with sound, 45’08’’, stills © Hoël Duret 2015

- La Vie Héroïque de B.S. - Un opéra en trois actes, 2013-2015 - is a narrative and critical drama depicting the evolution of the main character, an industrial designer named B.S.. Born during the Functionalist movement of the twentieth century, he tries to bring a new outlook on the subject. Subjects such as the modern avant-gardists to the foundations of the American Way of Life through the Do It Yourself utopias. His unwavering belief in the rational and unnatural uncertainties of modernist thought, his baseless self-confidence and his chronic lack of perspective on his objects of study drives him to disenchantment and therefore madness. All of this makes him an apathetic character whose lack of talent sometimes verges on the pathetic.

The first act - La Vie Héroïque de B.S. : As a tribute..., 2013 - presented at the FRAC des Pays de la Loire, plays with innovative forms inherited from the twentieth century, in a tentacular installation which will serve as a backdrop for the first opus of the opera. B.S., fascinated and passioned by these emblematic forms, undertakes the crazy project of achieving an effective synthesis of them. Just like a zany Facteur Cheval (French postman, and brilliant representative of naïve art architecture) traveling through Design Land, B.S. somehow tries to combine the savoir-faire of figures such as Marcel Bauer, Mies van der Rohe, Eileen Gray, the Earnes spouses or Enzo Mari, and sprinkles the resulting concoction with typical ingredients from the last century : ranging from Formica's working surface, to the tubular deck-chair, via the plastic market crate. Filmed as such, it revives the film's archive widely used in the second half of the twentieth century to praise the genius of an era.
In act II, - La Vie Héroïque de B.S. : Le dilemme de l'oeuf, 2014 - filmed at Mosquito Coast Factory, B.S. receives the mad commission to redraw a chicken egg to optimize packaging and transport. He finds himself having to contradict the laws of nature by trying to perfect an ideal form. The scenes filmed to look somewhere between industrial post-war advertisements, TV popular science magazines and The Adventures of Tintin, illustrate his multiple attempts to reach an impossible result.

But it is in the last act - La Vie Héroïque de B.S. : Les sirènes de Corinthe, 2015 - that the real issue of the project plays out. Having definitively lost his modern certainties on the use and origin of forms, B.S. in act III embarks on a journey to Greece to understand the conditions of appearance and conceptualization of the very first manufactured form : the Doric column. How in this arid region made only of dust and stones, Men could have conceptualized such a pure form ? Wandering in the desert landscapes, B.S. becomes mad and mystic. He finally abandoned the technical and precise tools of engineering and industrial production to start working only with what he can find on the spot. Desperately throwing himself in the experience of sculpture, he hopes that, in this context, a transcendental and universal truth about forms will appear to him. The third and last act, filmed at Zoo Galerie in a desert landscape set follows B.S.'s desperate attempts to make sculptures, and the whole thing ends up like a psychedelic experimental movie.

Using his own exhibitions as film sets for this project, Hoël Duret deploys strange scenographies which have already announced the failure of modernist thought with his character. - La Vie Héroique de B.S. - Un opéra en trois actes, 2013-2015 - has an ambiguous status : it is set somewhere between design and crafts, simple set design elements and artwork. From this results an rather intriguing atmosphere, arts and crafts elements being used to make a sophisticated looking movie. Even the form of the opera is a playing field for Hoël Duret who questions and trans-forms it through this work.



Act I - La Vie Héroïque de B.S. : As a tribute..., 2013 - presented at the FRAC des Pays de la Loire is the inventory of forms. B.S. attempts to summarize a century of industrial and technical creation in a sprawling instalation but his dandyesque demonstration, because of its precariousness, finally looks more like a Palais Idéal despite himself. The composite installation, bringing together shapes and materials from post-war to today design in an typical exercise of modern architects : the Pavilion, such as the Eames couple or Le Corbusier. Objects, techniques and materials get deploys in the space with the intention to reshape some design icons, from the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe, to the encroachments of Autoprogettazione by Enzo Mari, the decorative motifs of the American Craft Movement of the post-war, screens of Eileen Gray, Josef Albers designs or facade details by Marcel Breuer...

This reference collage, which carries the limits of B.S. beliefs, forms a domestic environment emphasizing the plethora of influences in a way much more precarious and pathetic than the technical efficiency that each element is supposed to be.



In act II - La Vie Héroïque de B.S. : Le dilemme de l’oeuf, 2014 - B.S. is commissioned to redraw a chicken egg to optimize its packaging and transport at large scale without loss. Working on this case, he is facing a fondamental dilemma because the natural form of the egg is perfect so the commission consists in fact to contradict the laws of nature against all logic : improving a naturally perfect shape. Driven by his faith in industrial design power, B.S. accepts the challenge with the certainty that any natural form should necessarily be optimized by techniques.
B.S. research and development studio’s multiplies scientific experiments and remodeling attempts under its control without reaching any conclusive result. Their repeated failures and his stubbornness will gradually destroy its repository formal system which constitutes the foundations of his convictions and lead him to madness.



Having definitively lost his modern certainties on the use and origin of forms, B.S. embarks in act III - La Vie Héroïque de B.S. : Les sirènes de Corinthe 2015 - on a journey to Greece to understand the conditions of appearance and conceptualization of the very first manufactured form : the Doric column. How in this arid region, only filled with stones and dust, Man could have conceptualized a form as pure ?
Wandering in the desert landscapes, B.S. becomes mad and mystic. He finally abandoned the technical and precise tools of engineering and industrial production and starts working only with what he can find on the spot. Desperately throwing himself in the experience of the sculpture, he thinks that in that context a transcendental and universal truth on any form will appear to him.