sébastien gouju    

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Moving Worlds

On 28 January 1986 the US space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after take-off, burying
not only its crew but the American dream, as it were. Sébastien Gouju's Challenger 1986
transposes this tragic event to the realm of childhood, It consists of a specially designed
wall paper for a children's room, "a space in which only the walls limit the imagination.
Challenger 1986 is the gesture of an illusion shattered, the violent movement of a dream
gone wrong" Gouju transforms everyday objects and inserts them into our collective
imagination, subverting meanings and undermining our perception of the world
and immersing us into an often bitter-sweet realm of dreams. Among others he has carved
buttefiies from colour pincils,which he then framed in the manner of a meticulous collector ;
constructed a sand castle from briquettes ; sculpted a kébab from sandstone and clay sitting
atop a pedestal like an Ottoman amphora ; assembled rosettes from Baccarat crystal ;
or added testicles to paraffin candelabra. Similar to a magicien, he appropriates objects
and reinvents the everyday by heightening the banal and lending it originality,
producing associations of often funny and absurd ideas and offering spectators the possibility
to invest the works with their own interpretation. Movement is symbolised by the semiological shifts
provoked by the displacement of contexts and the constant gaps between the perception of reality
and imagination. In God We Trust refers to religious fanatism and the depreciation of the US currency,
a symbol of capitalism. It shows a liberated Christ jumping from diving-bard into the void.
Gouju is equally interested in belief systems, metaphysics and tradition of liturgical sculpture.
His descent from the cross, or readapted crucifixion with Jesus freeing himself of a chiasmus,
is reminiscent of an athlete at the Olympic Games, as the ordeal gives way to the image of a modern,
triumphant man who is about to perform a physical prowess.

Didier Damiani

Didier Damiani is a art historian, curator and art critic. He is secretary of AICA Luxembourg.