Florentine & Alexandre Lamarche-Ovize cultivate an engaged, resolutely hybrid, and expanded practice that mixes art and craft. Their works are true visual inquiries, developed by assemblage and revealing a compilation of references that simultaneously draw on the everyday, popular culture, and art history. For them, drawing is omnipresent. It allows for thought to exist, in the form of sketches and notes. It spreads across the walls and other supports—ceramics or wallpapers—with a gentle and abundant eccentricity.
At Le Grand Café, with the end of the 19th century as a backdrop, they weave together several stories and mix the utopian visions of William Morris, fervent militant of English socialism and founder of the Arts & Crafts movement, with those of Elisée Reclus, libertarian geographer and participant in the Commune. Although the two men corresponded, they were never able to meet and combine their utopian visions: this exhibition grants that wish.
News from Veracruz—it could be the title of an adventure story—Veracruz, or the damp exoticism of a colonial city that became a port for the Mexican navy… By placing the imaginary décor of their exhibition in that town, Florentine & Alexandre Lamarche-Ovize incorporate a biographical dimension, seen through the prism of a more global history: the artists have in fact recently produced ceramics in Mexico, displayed on the first floor of Le Grand Café. The pieces were brought back to Europe by boat from Veracruz, a port which was once connected to Saint-Nazaire by a transatlantic link. By a strange coincidence a group of Communards attempted, without success, to implant a community over there and it is precisely this period at the end of the 19th century that inspired the artists for their project for Saint-Nazaire. Thanks to the hazards of history and unexpected geographical connections, Florentine & Alexandre Lamarche-Ovize create an elaborate visual story that takes in several spaces and times and where one thing unlocks another.
Under the cover of innocent forms—bunches of flowers, bucolic scenes or decorative motifs, Lamarche-Ovize explore the power of a coded visual language that is much more engaged than it first seems. Out of this voyage through decorative motifs and this falsely naïve world comes an acerbic reflection on revolutionary thought and the forms that embody it: a subversive chronicle, directly engaged with today’s world, of the value of labour, geopolitics, and the fundamental ties between ecology and philosophy.