Intro text for book "avoir l'air "
.A nifca publication 2002
On Colonel´s philosophy, complexity is not some abstract element, hard
to get one's mind round, but a dynamic element, charged with creative potential.
He appropriates public space in dual roles - both as observer and producer.
In accosting passers-by or staging interactions he invites his casually recruited
cast to have their say.and sometimes we reveal more than we intend.
Both originator and catalyst, Colonel documents his public and involves them.
His medium is the public arena of the mass media: the daily newspapers, a
variety of other publications and not least television, are the chosen bearers
of his projects. Through his lens they figure as spatial domains lending
themselves to occupation - or, to pursue a different metaphor, they are laboratories,
where the artist develops his exposures: individuals who chance to get caught
up in the projects are pigments or elementary particles, raw material for
the laboratory technician.
When screened at prime time, Colonel's productions attract an audience in
the order of 350,000 Danish viewers - far surpassing that mustered by an
ordinary gallery or medium-sized art museum. Colonel's TV productions communicate
at different levels, going far beyond the role of unlisted entertainment
spots filling out the chinks between billed programmes. Those with some knowledge
of art can pick up references to Duchamp and others, and indeed, a rich array
of allusions unfolds once the viewer begins to decode the clothes Colonel's
attired himself in, not infrequently embellished with photo transfers from
earlier projects. The captions too are invariably statements in their own
The deployment of a wide spectrum of public media is thus part of a deliberate
strategy. With mobility as one of his key focuses, alongside his prized fluidity,
Colonel conceives of his work as the practice of conclusionism - the using,
classifying and interpreting both media images and the work of other artists
in the spontaneous forging of collages.
Colonel's productions are in continuing flux, a confluence of previously-used
(plus extraneous) elements, swelling the store of archived material. Fresh
strata accrue - mediating archaeological dimensions. New projects emerge
from the melding of earlier material, now pressed into other moulds and juxtaposed
by fresh realities. This results in Colonel's work almost always manifesting
the retrospective and the topical in tandem.
The projects are borne by Colonel's persona, itself metamorphic, his guises
spanning, amongst others, Professional Tourist, Active Immigrant, father
of three and Dippy [or Funny?] Scientist. This procession of personae is
directly correlated to the artist's private trajectory, which unfolds not
in parallel but as incorporated into Colonel's productions. Colonel's constructions
involve in equal part his feeling his way into a scenario and living it out,
form following fiction - inspired by faction's execution of "a takeover of
reality" to quote Jeffrey Deitch who, in 2001, introduced the concept of
Form Follows Fiction in his curatorship of an exhibition so named.
"Colonel" is Thierry Geoffroy's elected nom-de-guerre. Colonel's father held
the rank of captain and was posted in Algeria. Now, by means of his own annexation
strategies Colonel, for his part, invades the worlds of media. First, as
Professional Tourist in countries such as India, Africa, China and Denmark
(the last-named hailed by Colonel as "my most exotic destination"); then
as Active Immigrant - often with the camera as a vade mecum - unmasking attitudes,
his own and ours, and occasionally peeling away the 'mask' of clothes too.
Whereas his father was a colonialist, Colonel opts for the touristic capture
of foreign territory, launching incursions into wide tracts of the media.
Over time he's become a master of camouflage: Colonel is not avant-garde
but arrière-garde. How so? Qua under cover agent, stand-up comedian,
joker, anthropologist, press photographer, private individual.artist. Where?
In the street, the media.the art world. The present instant finds you reading
a book about him, but the course of his future trajectories remains uncharted.
The irony, however, is that while specializing in the art of camouflage,
the sort of exposure that his work involves means that Colonel is eminently