Antoine Catala. Heavy Words

Six Ways to Sunday #05
FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims

Antoine Catala
Heavy Words

22 May – 12 July, 2014


Peep-Hole in Milan and FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims present Antoine Catala Heavy Words, the fifth appointment of the multiyear project Six Ways to Sunday.

Antoine Catala’s work responds to the high technicality of current digital media by incorporating both lo-fi and analog. Filled with humour and a play on words, very often hiding a serious note, his work blends a conceptual reflection with specific work on material, and concentrates both on the aesthetic value of scientific projects as he does on the semiotic nature.
Throughout his work, the artist toys with the imperfections of language, the physicality of images and their tactile character, using the notion of accident and technology, the hologram, the 3D printer, morphing.


The Heavy Words exhibition presented at Peep-Hole will bring together for the first time three recent projects conceived as a trilogy: Il était une fois… (2012), produced by FRAC Champagne-Ardenne during the last Lyon Biennial and now part of the FRAC collection; part of the exhibition Image Families shown recently at UKS (Oslo) and at Fridericianum (Kassel) and Abracadabra (2013), shown in Empire State (Rome/Paris, 2013), to which new elements especially produced have been added for the exhibition in Milan.

The trilogy has taken form over the last few years, starting with an investigation conducted by the artist on the object=image=word equivalence, stimulated by the decisive role played by information technology in the contemporary world.


Thanks to Internet research, any word can be associated with a large number of images, which when processed by the 3D scanners and printers of the latest generation can produce objects. A phantasmatic but at the same time very real relationship whose basis is language, as Surrealist thinking and the reflections of the Conceptual have already suggested.

Heavy Words crystalizes in works the illusionistic process in continuous evolution of what Catala defines as “machine-images” – computers, monitors, augmented reality devices, 3D – intersecting the elements of the triad in different ways.

In Il était une fois…, the artist uses different technological outputs, like the hologram or the fog display, to reproduce a series of images of various kinds that appear to the viewer as a rebus to be solved. Combined in a precise order, these images form the famous phrase that is the beginning of all stories: “once upon a time” (il était une fois), marking the start of the “fable about the technological principles and materials that structure language” then developed along the exhibition itinerary.


Abracadabra, shown here in an enhanced version, offers further analysis of the relationship between word and image, presenting a series of kinetic pictograms created by the juxtaposition of punctuation marks and symbols. The communication through images typical of the language of the emoticon is thus represented in sculptural form.


The exhibition concludes with Image Families, a phantasmagorical device that unveils, in steps, the illusionary nature of images. The machines in the form of drones flie inside the space and analyze the objects, starting with their reproductions. The objects are like apparitions and the mechanical voice that describes them outlines the cybernetic future-present of the systems through which computers learn.


Curated by Florence Derieux.

The exhibition by Antoine Catala is part of Six Ways to Sunday, a multiyear program with which Peep-Hole devotes one event each year to the collaboration of an international contemporary art institution, temporarily becoming its satellite project room. With Six Ways to Sunday Peep-Hole offers a glimpse of the programming of six international art institutions, which present the most interesting contemporary art research.


Antoine Catala (Toulouse, 1975) lives and works in New York. His work has recently been shown at the 12th Lyon Biennial, Meanwhile… Suddenly, and then, in the Speculations on Anonymous Materials exhibition at Fridericianum in Kassel, at Empire State at Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome and Thaddeus Ropac in Paris, ProBio, EXPO 1: New York at MoMA PS1 in New York and Pommery Experience #11 “An Odysse : FRAC Champagne-Ardenne 30th anniversary”, at Domaine Pommery in Reims.

FRAC Champagne-Ardenne / Regional Funds for Contemporary Art, created in 1984, is active in the support and creation of contemporary art. Like the other FRACs in each of the French regions, it is mandated to create and promote a collection of contemporary works of art, to conceive and produce exhibitions of contemporary artists, to publish, and to organize educational activities and events in order to sensitize the public at large about contemporary art. During the renovation of the FRAC Champagne-Ardenne in Reims, a year-long programme of collaborations and offsite projects with artists, professionals and different partners is being developed in France and abroad.


Antoine Catala Heavy Words
Opening Thursday 22 May, 6 pm
On view 23 May – 12 July 2014
Peep-Hole Via Stilicone 10 – 20154 Milano
Wednesday – Saturday 3 pm – 7.30 pm or by appointment |
T. +39 0287067410 | M. +39 3450774884
Press info Marzia Moreschi
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