What Shall We Do Next?, by Julien Prévieux
Can you own gestures? An artist of "counter-productivity" known for his Letters of Non-motivation (“Lettres de non-motivation”) Julien Prévieux explores the question of the industrial property of behaviours, around patented gestures.
Julien Prévieux, the art of counter-employment
Born in 1974 in Grenoble, Julien Prévieux is a graduate of the Grenoble School of Art and the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris, and holds a master’s degree in biology. His work often humorously questions the world of work, the economy, new technologies and mechanisms of control.
In his Letters of Non-motivation (2007) addressed to employers in response to job offers published in the press, he mischievously describes the reasons which motivated him not to apply.
What will our future actions be?
What Shall We Do Next? is a project combining various sections (videos, choreography) created from a series of gestures registered, from 2006 to 2011, with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Like a brand would be registered, these series of physical gestures were patented, in the form of drawings, in anticipation of their use on future machines (tablets, phones, computers, game consoles, etc.), even before the machines were created.
Julien Prévieux reproduces and appropriates these utilitarian gestures by combining videos, a dialogue between two actors and the re-use of choreography by Martha Graham, to question the role of a technology which determines our behaviours.
A creation through addition
The series of gestures shown in What Shall We Do Next? were presented during their patenting in the form of drawing boards precisely describing the hand movements to be carried out for the use of a future machine. The artist archived these documents and then turned them into a 3D animated film showing the chronological sequence of the movements.
The video demonstration then became a film with dancers, followed by a live performance. In the same process of addition, gestures drawn from Hollywood science fiction films dating from the 1950s to the present day were added.
An international artist
With What Shall We Do Next? Julien Prévieux won the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2014, and enjoyed a three-month solo exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Beyond this piece, his work is regularly exhibited in art centres, galleries and museums in France and abroad. His exhibitions, whether solo or collective, have been displayed at the Blackwood Gallery in Toronto, the RISD Museum of Art in Providence, the Montreal Underground Art Festival, and the Luxembourg MUDAM. His Letters of Non-motivation was adapted for the theatre in 2015 by Vincent Thomasset and toured in Belgium, Switzerland and Lithuania.
What Shall We Do Next received the Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2014, awarded by the Association for the International Distribution of French Art (ADIAF).
The Institut français supports the international distribution of exhibitions dedicated to the French arts scene organised by ADIAF.