Backslash is delighted to announce a new exhibition of work by Rero. The French artist has expanded the scope of his artistic explorations over recent years with residencies in the USA and South America. Three years after his last exhibition at the gallery, he has chosen to name the new show IBID., the Latin abbreviation for ibidem, ‘in the same place’, to express his desire to return to a material space he has already engaged with. However, instead of crossing out the word with his usual thick line, he has opted to alter it with the aphorism ÉPUISEMENT DES IDÉAUX [Waning of Ideals], thus questioning the archetypes of perfection our minds devise with no link to reality. Rero sees the new exhibition as highlighting our desire and/or need to begin a transitional phase marked by a more pragmatic attitude. Such a transition involves following various alternative paths that could serve to reunite us with our ideals and prevent their depletion.
The exhibition presents a summary of Rero’s investigations over recent years when he travelled across the American continent, stopping off at a variety of places from Rio de Janeiro and the Candelaria district of Bogota to California. Each of his sets of works questions one of our ideals, whether cultural, determinist, political, social, financial, virtual or simply human, looking at that the path we would ideally like to follow in the same spirit as Kallipolis, the ideal city Plato describes in The Republic.
Our virtual ideal and our relationship to the digital are defined by an immersive installation on the ground floor on the theme of F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out). This fear is a form of social anxiety, whereby people are worried about missing an important piece of news or some other event that serves as an occasion for interacting socially. Although it affects young people’s concentration in particular, other generations are not spared.
Our social ideal draws on François Truffaut's film Fahrenheit 451, based on Ray Bradbury’s novel, proposing a series of burned books enclosed in resin that tackle the theme of censorship and self-censorship and refer to error code 451 for web pages inaccessible due to legal reasons. The figure 451 is the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit at which paper ignites without the need for an external flame.
Our financial ideal is questioned by Rero’s use of local currency notes, including the Brixton pound featuring David Bowie which is already circulating in London, thus underscoring feasible alternatives in how we choose to handle financial transactions.
Our political ideal is addressed with an installation of kites made in Rio de Janeiro, where they are used in the favelas to warn people about the imminent arrival of the forces of order and as ‘weapons’ by members of a community to settle disputes.
Our determinist ideal is defined by a series of canvases featuring expressions based on the double bind concept as defined by Paul Watzlawick, a founding member of the Palo Alto Group, who illustrated the concept by proposing the example of a motorway sign saying ‘ignore this sign’. Here Rero is seeking to activate individual resources for each and every one of us, so we can come to terms with and distinguish ourselves from all that is imposed on us.
With this series of works and a consistently humorous touch, Rero draws our attention to an imminent change in society, a change we can take control of by means of the alternative paths that are the exhibition’s main theme. He wants to highlight the limits of an ageing system that ossifies our reality as well as our ideals.
A 230-page monograph is being published to mark the exhibition. Available as a limited edition of 150 signed copies, it provides a compilation of Rero’s explorations over the last ten years.
Rero’s work has been exhibited at a wide range of museums, including the Centre Pompidou and Grand Palais in Paris, MAC/VAL in Vitry-sur-Seine (south of Paris), MAC in Bogota and Caixa Cultural in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia.