FLOOR – Lying on the floor, my body experiences a soothing gravity. Sitting up and contemplating the horizon. Forgetting the neglected floors, forgetting the earth which blankets buried close friends. Lying on the floor, well-rested. « Les Mots Propres » Little Autobiographical Dictionary from Astiquer to Zen – RP – New edition 2010.
Walking, observing, sweeping, clearing, going past, going past again, polishing, testifying, collecting, here are some activities and inactivities produced by Régis Perray since the mid-1990’s. The Gourvennec Ogor Gallery is hosting his first personal exhibition, composed of three founding sections, together with more recent photographs and installation artworks. From Nantes to Marseille, from a port to another, from one end of the world to the other ?
Régis Perray’s feet are firmly planted on the ground. His practice results from a combination of both his attachment to the working world, especially to trades linked with the modification of floors and his tactile approach. As a passionate and involved foreigner, he goes through places, where every time, each place is put into perspective with his experience of such a demarcated territory. Paved, concrete, stony, dusty, tiled or inlaid wooden floorings. Each one of them determines his reaction to the site he is about to probe. From France to Egypt, Poland to the Democratic Republic of the Congo or North Korea, he strides over floors that signify a culture and a history he wishes to interact with, literally and figuratively. With this aim in mind, he conditions himself and accepts rhythm that enables him to temporarily stay in harmony with each place.
This new exhibition shows, among other things, three works produced from a personal floor archaeology. Via photography, video and sculpture, Régis Perray classifies his collection of pictures, objects and signs. Le Mur des Sols [The Wall of Floors] (1995-2012) is the fruit of years of iconographic research, years during which he gathered together postcards, press clipings and topographic maps. They are all documents linked with floors around the world, categorized into several groups : vehicles, work, wars, sports, graveyards, sacred, etc. Placed end to end, these groups combine to form a set which today is more than 40 metres [130 ft] long. In Marseilles, 14 metres [46 ft] of pictures are exhibited, they are hung to enable each visitor to take in all the images. This accessibility enables everyone to take into account each item. Le Mur des Sols is a mind-altering and objective map and an encapsulated vision of the artist’s research. The memory of places is the heart of his artistic project.
This wall map relates to a physical display set on the gallery’s floor. Les Bouts du Monde, work which gives its name to the exhibition, is composed of bronze fragments laid on the gallery’s floor. As artist-in-residence in Franche-Comté, he worked in a studio near a bronze foundry, with which he became familiar and came to know every day. During the casting, jets of liquid metal formed solid scraps on the floor. Then, he started to collect the discards, and cast liquid bronze directly onto the floor to obtain bigger images. He thus kept more than three hundred pieces of different sizes. These are now part of the exhibition and considered as additional islands, pieces of the world. Islands born by chance, bringing to life a related but imaginary map.
Finally, the Serial Floors (2006-2008) video compiles the result of a daily watching of 70 TV detective shows, during a 24 month period. From the screen he recorded 549 corpses lying on floors, each different, echoing the tragedy and the story of these fictitious murders. Once again, the artist keeps to a specific and demanding process in order to extract from these TV floors a brand new 52 minute-episode in which death, memories and material areas become inextricably linked and create meaning.
By the basic contact between our body and the floor, we feel and discover the areas which we are crossing. In light of an obvious and key observation, Régis Perray defines his relationship with space through key observation. During the period as artist-in-residence, at a exhibition, or on a trip, he engages in a process of choreography and indulges in an intense and self-effacing communication between his body and the place. Floors become ephemeral evidence of a world in progress, linking construction, destruction and reconstruction. They are the visible and tangible surfaces of history with multiple and superimposed layers, which the artist attempts to decode. Subtly, he invites us to become aware of our own history.
Julie Crenn (February 2012).
(Traduction by Fanny Sainte Rose)