It is these digital prints that Alban Lecuyer seizes hold of, to saturate their absurdity through a process of reinjection of social reality and photographic practice
The modern city is a romantic programme. Attempts at creating this Utopia are always dull compared with the dream of planners and the hopes of inhabitants. These find themselves forced to take ownership of a land that has never expected them. The temptation of the ideal city is accompanied by a cortege of icons and sacred relics. Beginning with the model (actual or in 3D) where everyone can contemplate, as if posted from a celestial watchtower, the great work of the future that the hand of Man will build. Then come the “artists’ views”, a procession of images of the idyllic life anticipated in the newly finished buildings. It is these digital prints that Alban Lecuyer seizes hold of, to saturate their absurdity through a process of reinjection of social reality and photographic practice. The appearance of unsmiling not-white, inactive, unplanned figures in the idealized landscape, makes the discursive scaffolding collapse. The introduction of real inhabitants in photographs recovering the codes of these “artists’ views” of architects’ firms scatters the wish for predestination of the use of future constructions and the desire for mass control of an authority alienated from its principle of hyper-planning, indicating in hollow a totalitarian vision of the urban future – preventing it from thinking of the other or simply even the elsewhere. In the series Ici prochainement [Here Soon], the work Reparto Camilo Cienfuegos #1 shows an individual from the back observing the building opposite. The first impression is that this photo could have been taken in France since the building recalls the great groups. But a few clues (Cuban flag, palm trees, cars) can create a certain doubt. Are these retouches by the artist or the proof that the photograph was taken elsewhere ? The other problem in this image comes from the man’s position – the same as that of a guard – evoking the panoptical prison or the unformulated hope of planners for a self-surveillance of populations allowing them to concentrate on the pure management of energy, transport, supply and waste fluxes – reifying the human to his data, allowing them to transform the land into smart grids in the manner of Foucault.
These cities are dead ends, enclosed labyrinths, that the artist reveals in impossible montages where the inhabitants wander like stunned minotaurs, sometimes split and frozen beyond time, like the Rue de Cantal, Saint Herblain, again in the Ici prochainement series. It is possible to feel the mounting confusion of these Olympuses in revolt, built for reclusive monads, inadequate for the mortals who haunt them with vitality.
Nicolas Rosette / Salon de Montrouge catalogue / May 2013