Anybody interested in the work of Martine Feipel & Jean Beachmeil soon realises that the notion of space is central to it. This is also the case in the artwork presented for the 2011 Venice Biennale. The observer is presented with a single idea: the obvious necessity of finding a new type of space.
At the root of their work is an awareness that sensorial perception has physiological limits – and that our conception of space is historically dated. Henceforth, in the wake of the philosophy of Jacques Derrida, it is a case of trying to go beyond the limit of a place to find a new one. This comes down to thinking about the meaning of the limit and the meaning of space which is mainly the result of tradition. The important thing is not to overstep or transgress the law by crossing the limit but to ‘‘open’’ a space at the very heart of the former space. This opening does not create new space to occupy, but rather a sort of pocket hidden inside the old meaning of the limit. It is about an opening in space according to the principle of slippage. This internal slippage and the recreation of space always implies the destruction of an institution. The meaning of the word “space” is profoundly destabilised. In this, our two artists are very topical because the management of space is in crisis. This space we think of as living space is simultaneously a space of action, orientation and communication. The development of science and technology, the erosion of particular visions of the world and traditional value systems, the structural crisis of the economy and the exacerbation of the issue of logic question a traditional conception of space and management that only thinks in terms of fields of competence and is obsessed with the constraints of growth and valorisation. We live in a period of mutation in which past models of orientation and action no longer work.
Certainly, the situation still seems open, but we lack concepts of action capable of responding to the ecological crisis and the crisis of civilisation we are currently experiencing without endangering democracy, human rights and the physical necessities of life. Today, there is no doubt that it is more urgent than ever to consider any reflection on the question of space as a work of civilisation, as a remodelling of civilisation. Modifying the everyday completely remodels our world, and that is what this is all about.
The artwork can be understood on various different levels that touch as much on philosophy as on art history or society.