brilliant 30: Tendance Floue
Artists sharing stories abundant with human coexistence
Tendance Floue, the Empathetic Gaze
Founded in 1991 by a collective of 13 photographers, Tendance Floue is an experimental art group exploring the world and working together to open up new horizons and diversify the mode of representation for contemporary photography. The members vouch for one another's independence and individual works, while also being a part of a collective effort to “create art through communication.” Tendance Floue and the art critic Bernard Marcadé (an authority on Gilles Deleuze, the philosopher referred to as the “modern mind”) visited Korea in 2014 for ‘Homage to Deleuze’- a special exhibition at Tomorrow 2014.
‘Homo Empathicus’, or simply ‘Hom.E’, embodies Tendance Floue’s collective gaze, seeing contemporary people as empathetic beings. The gaze is a genial one; it is directed at an age of rampant individualism and proposes empathy as the answer to mankind's chronic problems. Beyond the documentary nature of photography, Tendance Floue captures the contemporary age through the particular perception of each individual group member. Photographs tell the story of the world not in what the lens has captured, but through what the lens cannot capture - and what lies beyond it. A photograph is a subjective act of selection, or framing. Rather than direct engagement, the collective remains an observer employing many different techniques and approaches to conjure a collective expression of the world. Beyond their individual methods, the members of Tendance Floue share a common artistic vernacular of photography and a will to question contemporary tendencies.
Q. First of all, welcome to Korea! Could you introduce yourselves?
We are a collective of 13 photographers. Through our works, we explore perspectives on the contemporary world. A major project we are currently undertaking relates to Korea. To celebrate the 130th anniversary of Korea-France diplomatic ties in 2015 and 2016, the project will spotlight Korea as seen through the eyes of a French artist within a framework entitled ‘Cross-Perspective.’ Several of our members have already come to Korea and have been conceptualizing the project.
Bernard Marcadé: I am an art critic. I plan art exhibitions, and also write related books and articles. With respect to Korea, I have planned several exhibitions here and I have been developing deep ties. I first came to Korea in 1997 to plan the 2nd Gwangju Biennale, and subsequently for the ‘MixMax’ exhibition held at Artsonje Center.
Q. What are Tendance Floue’s main themes?
At the moment, our gaze is directed towards the contemporary moment. However, that gaze is not set on anything in particular. Like our name, we collectively respond to certain contemporary tendencies and collaborate for specific projects which every member is interested in. A clear-cut answer concerning our themes is not going to be easy as each member is also involved with his/her own independent work.
Q. Collaborating with other artists who have or different approaches and directions could be a challenge. How do you make those differences work? And on a related note, how is collaboration different from working individually?
We work as a collective, but we vouch for one another's unique themes and ideas. Once we have assembled our individual opinions, we seek a common theme through extensive debate and discussion. Ongoing communication amongst the members adds depth, contributing a variety of perspectives and methodologies.
Q. As we can see from the exhibition title <Homage to Deleuze>, featured works are obviously relevant to the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Would you introduce him briefly for the Korean art-goer?
Gilles Deleuze was a philosopher - one of the most influential minds of the second half of the 20th Century. At base, you will find that his philosophy is related to life (‘la vie’ in French). He discusses the physical body (le corps) to explain the relationship between the individual and society. That relationship is also relevant to Tendance Floue because we are a group comprised of members who also works individually, but also collaboratively. Through traditionally conflicting elements - above and below, truth and falsehood, light and shadow and so on - Deleuze presented things beyond the frameworks of ideology. In presenting those conflicts, Deleuze provided a foundation from which to view the antagonisms that lie behind Western societies - not as a dichotomy, but as an obscure boundary. Unlike the underlying cynicism of conventional Western thought, Deleuze spoke optimistically about the world, and about life. He is called a great mind and philosopher because his ideas lay the foundations for a host of contemporary discourses.
Most philosophers sought to define art, but Deleuze appreciated the very process of art itself, and left it open and free to its own devices. That is a major reason Deleuze's philosophy needs to be noticed. - Tendance Floue -
Q. Deleuze continues to inspire and influence many contemporary artists. How do you think he did that?
Deleuze does draw on art in his discussion of philosophy, but he did not explain art. This is my personal perspective, but concepts and methods cannot explain art in its entirety; this is because art is important in and of itself. Deleuze's ideas affect artists because his philosophy granted art a great deal of freedom. I do not think philosophy can define art. Philosophy is the study of offering different ways to understand the world - and so is art. This is what exactly Deleuze pointed out as he appreciates the process of art and lets the art to be exerted without any interruption.
Q. Can you provide some explanation for the work ‘Hom.E’ presented in this exhibition?
First of all, the title ‘Hom.E’ is pronounced similarly to the French word for peoples' houses. We chose the title as a sort of pun, but it is also the abbreviation for ‘Homo Empathicus’ - the empathetic man. Empathy is a unique human characteristic that is ever more important in this age of individualism. There is a need for us human beings to evolve into a better future through empathy. Through our work, we ask the audienceorld?” The question is open-ended “What does it mean to live as human beings in this contemporary world?” The question is open-ended, with no set answer; we wanted to give the audience an opportunity to think about it for themselves.
Q. Before we conclude, what plans does Tendance Floue have for the future?
As I mentioned earlier, Tendance Floue is planning a collaboration related to Korea. The project is under way, and several of our members are in Korea for research. The project is in the early stages that I cannot share any specifics yet. As artists, we envision certain forms and themes, but responding to circumstance is also part of the nature in our works.
<Venerable tree (Rhododendron) near the Forest camp>
"Mardi Himal" trek, Nepal, 2012. Picture of the series “Tree”.
Photographer : Flore-Ael Surun/ Tendance Floue.
<Waiter in front of the buffet for a press conferency about investment in France>
<Waiter in front of the buffet for a press conferency about investment in France>
<During a tournament organized by the Wrestling Stars>
Dieppe, France, 2009. Photographer : Gilles Coulon / Tendance Floue.
<Santa Cesarea, District of Lecce, Italy, 1993>
Picture of the series “De Finibus Terrae” Photographer : Alain Willaume / Tendance Floue.
Tendance Floue is a collective of French photographers whose principles are based around independence and freedom. This experimental art group uses its own unique and innovative approach to capture the contemporary world through photography. The group also works with various non-photographic media - including books and performances - to realize their work. Representative works by Tendance Floue include the ‘Mad in’ series that saw various countries through the artist's eyes, and works that captured scenes from societies around the world and were published as a photo book, including ‘Nous traversons la violence du monde’ (1999), ‘Nous n'irons plus aux paradis’ (2002) and ‘Sommes - nous?’(2006).
Bernard Marcadé is an art critic and curator. He currently teaches Aesthetics and Art History at l’École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy. He curated the 2nd Gwangju Biennale ‘Becoming’ in 1997, and the ‘Mix Max’ exhibition at the Artsonje Center in 2004. Marcadé has also curated numerous exhibitions, such as ‘Féminin-Masculin, Le sexe de l'art’, Musée National d'art Moderne’, (Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1995), ‘Aftermoon/Bertrand Lavier’, (Tsum Foundation, Moscou, mai 2010) and ‘Courant d’art au rayon de la quincaillerie paresseuse’(L’observatoire du BHV MARAIS, Paris, septembre 2010).