Ceysson & Bénetière, Paris
Florian Pugnaire & David Raffini
For the 2021 edition, Ceysson & Bénettière proposes a video work by Florian Pugnaire and David Raffini entitled Driving Through (2019, HD video, color and sound, 36 min, Edition 2/5).
The artist duo is known for its sculptural work, but also for its performances and videos, Driving Through creates a symbiosis between mediums. The artists’ first narrative work, the video presented is the result of extensive filming, four-handed writing and careful editing.
At the origin of the project in 2015, a residency at the Flax Foundation in Los Angeles, during which Florian Pugnaire & David Raffini explore the abandoned territories of the American West, and the urban legends that inhabit them.
Central themes in the research of Pugnaire & Raffini, materials and their state of transformation seemingly relate to an expected temporality, with a past, a present and a future. However, in the first scenes, the presence of the protagonist both on the road and in his studio, as well as his soliloquy, start casting a doubt. The landscapes seem like abandoned sets at the end of a film shoot. The protagonist recalls them by resurrecting bribes of past stories. In the end, distinguishing reality from illusion does not matter.
Driving Through depicts a character’s stubbornness in picking up fragments of ruins to build, or rebuild, something. True stories are tinged with fiction in a poetic form, but the archiving of the process remains invariably in the background. The movie transforms a mythical post-apocalyptic atmosphere into a documented story in which materials appear once again loaded. However, the impact of the movie no longer relies on a fictional “one-object show”, but instead on the determination of the protagonist to resist the disappearance of the world.
His gestures are precise and repetitive. Primitive. He collects rubbles, materials, and pieces of history that he first transforms by accelerating their deterioration process. He seeks, works, and labors while walking on an endless path. Rubbles are crushed, sometimes entirely. The lifeless matter becomes raw, the origin of one last creation.
The movie also tells a story of sculpture and painting. With the road first, which is in almost every frame. Subtle quote to Carl André’s ideal sculptural work, the road is a key to the work. Here, it physically and intellectually manifests the weight of matter as well as the extent of a sort of probably utopian quest. The protagonist follows it, but also wears it up with his own hands in an ultimate and inescapable face-to-face in an immense yet closed setting.
Here is the information: Fahrenheit 134. The highest temperature ever reached on the surface of the planet nearly a century ago, in the Death Valley (56,7°C). On a desolated urban background, with sadly magnificent sunsets and landscapes dried out by a scorching heat, the story builds around the truths and legends related to the territories visited by the protagonist. Thanks to the attention paid to them, these tangible and sensitive traces turn into monuments in themselves.