Benoît Maire

Benoît Maire was born in 1978 in Pessac, France and live and work in Bordeaux, France. They graduated from Villa Arson in Nice and Sorbonne Paris 1 in Paris, and completed a postgraduate at Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Recent solo exhibitions include Croy Nielsen, Vienna and Arsenal, New York. They also had exhibitions at Meessen de Clercq, Brussels; Kiria Koula, San Francisco; and DRAF, London, among others. They directed the full-length film Repetition Island, which was presented at Tate Modern, London and at Centre Pompidou, Paris. Recent publications include History of Geometry, (Archive Books), The Object of Criticism, (Roma Publication) and Benoît Maire, (Drawing Room Confessions).

Location: Vilnius
Benoît Maire Castle 2018 Brass, iron, butterfly 51 x 49 x 38 cm Courtesy the artist
Photo by Frédéric Deval - Archives du CAPC musée

Benoît Maire works in various media, but mostly in the form of complex installations. In their work, the artist mixes objects of such discrepant origins as crystals, stones and minerals with remnants of antique sculptures, stark geometric structures and contemporary everyday tools such as keyboards, computers and spanners. By juggling these disparate forms and, with them, different times, places, cultures and languages, Maire creates aesthetically-pleasing but tense environments whose parts seem to sit at odds with one another and our expectations.


In this heterogeneous milieu, objects are the sum of a plethora of foreign parts and appear like strange bodies constituted of alien organs. As a rule, they are of human scale, similar to the objects we share our daily lives with, hence our bodies and senses recognise them naturally, without much resistance. They appear as some strange souvenirs brought back from forgotten places, as some ancient treasures extracted from lost cultures. In sum, they are simply beautiful in their appearance.


But then an uncanny feeling appears. Maire’s works point us in a multitude of directions, none of which fit easily into one, comprehensive universe. Instead, they constantly keep us in an undefined state of in-betweenness. The urge is to brush off the feeling by trying to explain it, to speak about it, but it is not so easy to find a proper language for this task. The works and their constitutive parts accumulate chasms of abyss in the diversity of their signification. One would like to put them in a nice linear sentence, but they would rather exist in overlapping and discrepant rhizomes instead, only partially baring their structure.


There is an apparent, strong philosophical background to each of Maire’s acts, but it is hidden by the promiscuous relations that the constitutive parts in their work have to each other and to language, so that each attempt at decoding resonates in a polyphony of misaligned voices. Their work always begins with a conflict between what is said and what is seen and, due to their theory-laden background and its fluid interpretation, results in being neither art nor philosophy.


For the Baltic Triennial 13, Maire has created a new work, titled Society (2018). Various objects are placed on custom-made tables, as subjects in a social construct who co-exist together on one unifying terrain. Since 2015, Maire works in collaboration with the artist and architect collective ‘Ker-Xavier’. In partnership with them, Maire has conceived a set of specific furniture, which is subordinate to other work by the artist. The furniture might retain its traditional functionality in this instance. It can act as a platform, or a plinth on which other objects might be placed, such as the tables presented at the BT13, which form the base of the installation and are simultaneously a work in their own right..


Neringa Bumblienė