Europe

Raphaël Zarka
Les formes du repos #3

This photograph seems to be awaiting meaning, it more or less evokes known elements without really identifying with them completely: a motorway interchange, a bridge, an electric pylon… In fact this is the end of the tracks of the Aérotrain, a wheelless monorail invented by Jean Bertin in the 1970s, which acts like ‘a fossil of movement on landscape scale’, as explained by the artist. This fragmentary place is meant to activate physical movement. It also activates the spectator’s imagination.
The series Les formes du repos is a photographic collection of concrete geometric objects, in undefinable spaces, set aside or in waiting. The photographic document allows the display of these ‘involuntary sculptures’. Paired down geometric forms (whether modernist or futurist) appear tensely in their decor (a field, several buildings on the horizon). This photograph is key in the series, since the tracks are no longer an object but a space. The positioning of the shot emphasises the fragmentary character, the tracks only lead to an empty decor. Observing this defunct functionality, the artist, with Vincent Lamouroux, created Pentacycle (a mono terrain vehicle, 2002) in order to reactivate movement on this ruin.

Raphaël Zarka presents himself as a sculptor and artist-collector. He scrutinises the contemporary world to draw up a genealogy of geometric forms. He is constantly noticing Plato's polyhedrons (speculative geometric forms) materialized in concrete breakwaters (Les formes du repos series/The Forms of Rest). His work highlights the fact that the 'survival of forms' (Aby Warburg) takes place in today's world in functional and concrete environments. The artist acts with the curiosity of the Renaissance humanists in their studio (Studiolo, 2008), but he has adopted a thinking structure where dichotomies and the methodological boundaries of Art History are banned. With his typical transversal approach, the artist has started theoretical research into the urban practice that is skateboard by publishing essays and realizing artistic projects. In Riding modern art  (Lyon Biennale, 2007), he confronts photographs of the skaters performing on public sculptures with a sculpture by Katarzyna Kobro. The confrontation underlines that the movement is either of aesthetic potential for modern sculpture or a mechanical realization for skating. “It's almost an insult to the mysteries of the world to think that we could invent anything or that we needed to invent anything”; this quote by Borgès has become the artist's motto.
Raphaël Zarka was born in 1957 in Montpellier, France. Lives and works in Paris.