Invited to conclude the cycle La part des choses (Get the Balance Right), Pauline Bastard has chosen to title her exhibition Le dernier coca du desert. Sounding like a bad trip Hollywood film, the title conveys the idea of confronting an ordinary consumer object lost in an immense cosmic landscape, summing up the artist’s practice. We can think back to the video Western where she was already exploiting a split between inert desert-like landscapes and a small coloured wheel (known as a beach ball; Mac equivalent of Windows hourglass) which entered the frame and crossed it. The discontinuity between the beach ball, representing the waiting period for a process to take place, and the immensity of the desert, was an indication of her desire to put a certain form of naivety at a distance.Le dernier coca du desert is also a Columbian expression which means “to think one is God's gift to mankind”. With Pauline Bastard, it is the objects which reclaim their importance. She uses them like characters in their own right: a plastic bag is used to represent a mountain (Icefields), the same plastic bag personifies the sea (Sunset), a paper shredder adopts the role of the bad guy (Movie). The cameras in Desert studio or Jungle studio don’t work, they play the part of cameras pretending to film. The decoy or dupe is a typically Bastardian strategy: it’s the non-functional parts of the object which interest her, and she charges them with dramatic and fictional potential.Le dernier coca du desert is perhaps also a mirage. Burning mirage, the installation at the heart of the exhibition, is composed of three radiators placed before a video projection of a sunset over the sea. The artist tries to create a mirage by concentrating the heat sources on the image. How is a mirage made? We never really know. Doubt is more important than certainty.  Pauline Bastard isn’t looking for technical virtuosity, she uses derisory means to play with the elements; “as if Zeus worked with the material of MacGyver” the artist jokingly pointed out. Pauline Bastard constructs her own Hollywood like an amateur, without a team or production budget. Everything around her is material: the computer, free software that comes with it, tools, supermarket products, waste. Everything is recycled and in particular clichés, which function like “indicators of ambiguity” (to adopt a formula dear to Roland Barthes). The artist uses the sunset as a reoccurring motif, calling it “the image par-excellence”; and this is as much for its dimension of cliché as real poetic dimension.Le dernier coca du desert is also the last crisps at an exhibition opening. Pauline Bastard jumped at the opportunity to gather them up and offers a morphing video Chipsing. As worthy as a Dadaist performance, Chipsing excels by being as burlesque as it is hypnotic. Contemplation and interrogation, fascination and irony, the artist practises the art of the oxymoron and confronts us with the vanities of our communication oriented society. This is of course without denying her taste for an authentic low-brow experience, as in contemplating the sun setting on an azure sea.

Isabelle Le Normand


1,2 : vues de l'exposition

3,4 : Mirage brûlant - vidéo, radiateurs - 2010

5 : Golden trashes - déchets et or pur - 2008

6 : Sunny - collection d'objets - 2010

7 : Chipsing - boucle vidéo morphing - 2010











10th october - 10th november 2010

* the last Coke in the desert