Rationalism : Grégoire Bolay
An Italian marxist recently suggested that irony might be a “way out” of our current
situation… what is the current situation? Rationalism, naturally…
As a young artist, the concept of rationalism is particularly seductive/problematic
because it would seem we are engaged in a wholly irrational endeavor. But today,
doesn’t every occupation seem irrational in the coworking space which is the world?
What’s the point? Rationally speaking, there is none, and embracing that might be
another “way out” of the contemporary trap of the ultra-rational.
Etymologically, the roots of rationalism are reason and counting; quantification.
Quantification, like other neoliberal ideas; competition, winning attitude, constant
enthusiasm, and the reduction of friction, put the body and emotions to work for the
improved circulation of information and value. The demands of PERFECTION from the
self and others, have completely infiltrated society and the workplace (at the same time
the workplace has also infiltrated every part of society).
Enter the Shitty Worker
The 12 works presented in the exhibition of Grégoire Bolay (*1986), function as
paintings and drawings, mostly lines painted onto backgrounds. In the same way that
individuals have become boss and employee, mirroring this collapse, the works of
Grégoire Bolay are both paintings and drawings. To try and escape that logic, these
works, like a slowdown strike, perform the minimum which they are asked, introducing
inefficiencies and deficiencies. They do not “perform” painting in a traditional sense, but
they are more than drawings imitating painting. The Italian marxist continues “We live in
hell, but in hell we have the capacity, an ironic capacity, to create sensitive lifespaces; a
life which does not rule out joy as a possible dimension.”
What is this hell?
These works, psychedelic, boring, acidic, lazy, masterpieces of their genre, depict for
the most part, the body and the written contract as subject matter. Sometimes these are
painted together, other times independently of the other, but each seems to be a sine
qua non of the other. These symbols might address state control, or the ever growing
percentage of “labor time” we provide as post-fordist workers and artists, or simply
serve as reminders of any other “unpaid debts” to different individuals and institutions
and the apparatuses that assure their existence (lawyers, prisons, police).
The tropes of productivity depicted here (the body at rest, the body at work, the office
worker’s tie, coffee, the machine at work) circulate and create a narration, or an image
of the world today. The middle finger (painted on the wrong type of canvas) is not a
middle finger to the spectator, but a first person perspective of fuck you (FPPFU)
which might be read as a critique of the medium, a critique of the system, a critique of
the institution, or a rejection of all attempts at critique.
Why rationalism? Because it works! The question is for who.