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Bertini, Gianni / Chopin, Henri
Dream machines de Brion Gysin. [Festival de Fort Boyard motif group].
Paris & Essex, 1967-1972.

#17283. A group of three artworks featuring a repeating Mec Art motif designed by Gianni Bertini. Comprising: (1) an original poster-invitation from the street-art project Festival de Fort Boyard; bright-red serigraph on thick sheet (68 x 53 cm.). This copy having been mailed to art critic Pierre Descargues; with manuscript address and postmarks to one of the verso panels. Fold-lines from mailing, but otherwise well-preserved. Accompanied by (2) a separate printing of the same Mec Art screen (with some modifications); printed in dark-blue ink on painted-white cloth (47 x 39 cm.). As well as (3) a retrospective collage work by Henri Chopin, signed, dated, and titled to verso as artist proof (Avec 3 figures: Bertini - Beguier - H.C., 1972); collage assembled onto cork-board disc (23 cm.) bound in stamped-foil.

“Although they are rare, there are works for occasions where the occasion itself is invented. We can cite the amazing case of seven posters conceived by Henri Chopin and Gianni Bertini in 1967 announcing various events at a fictive Festival de Fort-Boyard to be devoted to avant-garde poetry… This work was not only a joke, but a homage to the power of the imagination and to the independence of art in relation to reality… These announcement posters give the lie to common sense, which expects works for occasions to be regulated by the principle of reality even more than other works” (Anne Moeglin-Delcroix, in Extra art: a survey of artists’ ephemera).

In the Spring of 1967, a series of bold, colourful posters began to appear in the streets of Paris, especially surrounding the city’s art galleries and museums. The posters announced an almost-impossible-to-imagine avant-garde arts festival to be held on the remote island of Fort Boyard; an abandoned Napoleonic fortress built off the Atlantic coast, approximately a 5 hour drive west of Paris to Rochefort, from where speedboats were supposed to shuttle festival-goers hourly.

To justify these challenging logistics, the posters boasted of incredible performances from some of the most vital members of the avant-garde: Serge Beguier, Julien Blaine, Ian Hamilton Finlay, John Furnival, Brion Gysin, Sylvester Houdédard, Kurt Kren, Mimmo Rotella, and Gil Wolman. E.g.: for the night of June 3, Brion Gysin was scheduled to exhibit a massive installation of his celebrated octagonal dream machine; this one to measure 3 meters in diameter and to accommodate 18 simultaneous spectators. Of course, just like the Festival in toto, Gysin’s installation was a work of pure imagination, existing solely within the encounter between its announcement/invitation and the pedestrian’s reception; as Baudelaire might have it: “l’invitation au voyage.”

Here, with this group of three artworks—i.e. an original screenprint poster-invitation, a related Mec-Art print/painting, and a retrospective collage—one particular Festival image is recycled; the Barbarella-like muse that Bertini designed for Brion Gysin’s imaginary Dream machines performance.

For more from the Festival, see this original poster illustrated by Serge Beguier, as well as the imaginary catalogue from 1970.


3500 USD

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Jason Rovito, Bookseller / ILAB, ESA, RBMS / Avant-garde. design history, human sciences / Because the Cloud forgets