CECI N’EST PAS UN GARÇON A LA PIPE / THIS IS NOT A BOY WITH A PIPE
Performance/living installation “Ceci n’est pas un Garcon a la Pipe” (in English, “This is not a Boy with a Pipe”), basically came as an inspiration from Picasso’s early Rose Period painting A Boy with a Pipe, triggering my imagination for more than five years.
Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe) was painted in 1905 when Picasso was 24 years old, during his Rose Period. The oil on canvas painting depicts a Parisian boy holding a pipe in his left hand and wearing a garland or wreath of flowers. On May 5, 2004 the painting was sold for US$104 million at Sotheby’s in New York City. Sotheby’s did not name the buyer, though sources say that it was Guido Barilla, owner of Barilla Group. At the time, it broke the record for the amount paid for an auctioned painting.
My idea was to find the way to bring a Boy with a Pipe back to the context of “museum,” allowing the audience to be able to see the art piece that has been literally stolen and hidden for the private pleasure/business of some Italian magnate. In order to take the contrary line, I took a philosophical context from another famous painting by Rene Magritte, which was entitled The Treachery of Images. By fusing those two paintings/concepts, I wanted to ask the question, “Is this finally a Boy with a Pipe?”
This three-hour-long living installation was commissioned for TROUBLE #8 performance festival at Les Halles theater. It was a part of the curatorial concept by Antoine Pickels entitled The Great Gallery of Living Sculptures, including seven other living installations/performances happening at the same time in the Grand Hall of Les Halles. During the performance, I remained on a big cube/podium painted in neutral gray, wearing dark blue short pants, a tight Sailor’s shirt, white socks and white gloves. I wore white theater powder and very simple makeup. During the three hours, I was smoking a pipe, sitting, lying and standing on the oversized cube occasionally grabbing my genitals.