1 - 1 = 2 Hybert-Marché

October 1994 to February 1995

With Fabrice Hybert and Hans Ulrich Obrist

in cooperation with the ARC, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

If you sit in a glass house, you can throw stones. The artist calls his glass house Aquarium, a room separated from its surroundings by a glass wall. In it he shows his universe, drawings, paintings, sculptures, videos. His casts not only clink, his universe spills out onto the outside world, onto the supermarket right next door, into a 600 square meter room. There they are spread out, the trophies of our commodity world, a gigantic bouquet, from stuffed lions to musical instruments, household goods, office supplies, tools, cosmetics, esoterics, animal accessories, joke articles, toys and mannequins to the caps produced by the artist himself, presented on a hundred tables specially designed for this purpose - and available for purchase.

A supermarket in the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. What at first glance appears to be nothing more than a provocation of the venerable art halls turns out to be a thoughtful work by artist Fabrice Hybert (33), the young star of the French art world. A world of industrially manufactured and commercialized products is confronted with the world of things “invented” by Fabrice Hybert in his paintings and thus must allow itself to be questioned. For the correct, the correct world is, of course, that of the artist. Where else can the correct escape the dictates of the possible and the added value?

The confrontation of the art world with the world of commerce, of artistic utopia with real existing commodity is not only the subject of this exhibition with the “revealing” title 1-1=2, this encounter, these border crossings of art dominate the entire enterprise. In order to be able to realize such projects, Fabrice Hybert founded his own limited liability company - UR s.a.r.l (UR = Unlimited Responsibility; s.a.r.l. = societé à responsabilité limité = limited liability company) and hired the art historian Anne Marie Lafaige, by now a specialist in questions of business administration, as an employee. UR also facilitates the sale of the exhibited products in the museum.

But Fabrice Hybert could not have realized the project with his UR company alone. This required the cooperation with a completely different institution, the Kunstraum der Universität Lüneburg, arranged by the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist.

The project “Kunstraum der Universität Lüneburg” aims at an exhibition activity of the University of Lüneburg in the field of contemporary art, integrated in scientific work. It aims to be a forum for a cross-disciplinary dialogue between artistic and scientific communities. The artistic work is understood as an impulse-giving and at the same time integrated component of a more comprehensive discourse, which is supported by accompanying events, research projects and a publication series. Positions of international contemporary art that determine the current art discourse will be exhibited. Seminars, workshops, lectures, presentations of works, symposia, and discussions with artists, curators, critics, theorists, and scholars whose work relates to art or the broader framework of the aesthetic field prepare and accompany the exhibitions. Scientific research projects deepen important questions.

The “Hybert-Marché” project began in mid-October 1994 with a group of 19 students and their lecturers from the Kunstraum of the University of Lüneburg. At one of the first weekend group meetings, Fabrice Hybert and Hans-Ulrich Obrist participated to explain this unusual project.

Six different works by Hybert (Patron, Peinture homéopathique 1-5), which were available in the form of large copies, exhibition catalogs and a videotape, formed the basis for the student research work. The pictures consist of representational as well as non-representational drawings and paintings and were made using a wide variety of materials and techniques.

By analyzing these pictorial worlds of Fabrice Hybert, the concrete terms corresponding to them were associated. An inventory of over 500 terms and objects was created. Corresponding products of the real (commodity) world were then assigned and classified to these partly very abstract terms. Then began the work of tracking down manufacturing companies, contacting them, and convincing them to participate in the project. The arguments reveal the interlocking of the two worlds: Support of a cultural event of special importance, exhibition of own products in a traditional and internationally known art venue with high symbolic capital in the art world, media presence of the exhibition. In concrete terms, the following had to be clarified with the companies: Insurance of the goods, contractual arrangement, procedure of the sale in Paris, modalities of sale and contract, number of products to be delivered, time of delivery, return transport, way of presenting the goods, etc. Some companies had subsidiaries in France and also specifically in Paris. There, Anne Gros Lafaige took over the support.

Out of approximately 260 companies, only 68 participated in the end, but they delivered a total of approximately 500 different products, a complete success given the time constraints and the unfavorable negotiation period (Christmas and New Year). Many companies donated their goods, out of enthusiasm for the idea of the project, because of the low value of the goods, the complicated settlement procedure (Franc-DM) or because of the amount of the return transport costs. Even companies that cancelled found the project interesting. Some regretted their decision and assured that they would like to participate another time.

In addition to the learning processes intended by the Kunstraum concept through participation in the production of an exhibition of contemporary art, and indeed in all its realization phases, this project brought an additional gain in experience for the students involved: Practice in dealing with people of the business world, testing their own persuasiveness, taking into account bureaucratic clauses and obstacles in international art projects, efficient management of all the project data involved and keeping calm in stressful situations. And then, of course, the pleasure of assisting the artist in setting up the “Hybert-Marchés” directly on site in Paris.

This is the first time that the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris has mounted a solo exhibition for an artist as young as Fabrice Hybert. In Germany he is almost completely unknown, except for his participation in the exhibition “Hamburg, Frankfurt, Paris” curated by Kasper König (Frankfurt) and Hans Ulrich Obrist (St. Gallen, Paris, London) in 1994 in the rooms of the Hamburger Kunstverein. Now Fabrice Hybert is to be presented in this country as well, possibly with a large solo exhibition at various locations. Under discussion is not only a continuation of the “Hybert-Marché” project, but the starting point for this commodity market, the painterly, graphic and sculptural work of the artist, and his border crossings into the world of commerce as well as the individual and collective production processes leading to the exhibitions are to be worked out more strongly and more vividly. Date: End of January 1996