Friday, 08.07.2016
18:00h -
Thursday, 04.08.2016


2016 / 201607 / 201608 / Ausstellung
Emporium of Benevolent Data
Adrien Guillet, Quentin Lannes

An exhibition project by Adrien Guillet and Quentin Lannes

curated by Dimitrina Sevova and Alan Roth.

Sat 09.07.2016 - Fri 05.08.2016

Opening on Saturday, 9 July 2016 at 18:00h.

Sunday, 10 July 2016 at 16:00h: Artist Talks, presentations and discussion.

Finissage on Friday, 5 August 2016 at 18:00h in the presence of the artists.

Opening Hours / Öffnungszeiten:

Wed 15:00h - 18:00h
Thu 16:00h - 19:00h
Fri 15:00h - 18:00h

Emporium of Benevolent Data is an exhibition project by Adrien Guillet and Quentin Lannes, in collaboration with Corner College, based on the two artists’ long-term friendship and discussions. It puts on display their recent works Citracit, a site-specific research-based installation by Adrien Guillet, and the two video installations #IamRebekah and The Next Round by Quentin Lannes.

The title of the exhibition project is inspired by the story “The Analytical Language of John Wilkins.” The latter is a scientist from 17th century enlightenment whose “ambiguities, redundancies and deficiencies remind us of those which doctor Franz Kuhn attributes to a certain Chinese encyclopaedia entitled ‘Celestial Empire of benevolent Knowledge’” with its taxonomy of animals. The exhibition especially considers the distinctive character, listed in this encyclopaedia under the letter “(f)”, of being “fabulous,” as a method of fabulation on historical materials, modern ruins, commodities, and the recent rapid move of virtual-reality technologies into the medium mainstream, revealing a new geopolitics of the virtual and a crisis of representation of the body that inevitably follows from it. The dialogical format of the exhibition invokes a benevolent methodology that breaks with genealogy and linear narrative, détourning ‘cognitive technologies’ to actively speculate and generate deviated narratives that remain open in their “inherent formlessness,” providing the viewer with a “groundless basis of the aesthetic experience.” This methodology is both anachronistic and futurist, which inevitably come together in a live structure, in what Shklovsky describes as a “ludic ruin/construction site that lays a foundation for the subversive practice of estrangement.” The connecting principle of the works on display is the interplay of de-coding and encoding of the technological dispositifs, colonial history, and material knowledge. As their collective motto, the artists refer to what the Red Queen says to Alice about remembering events before they happen as well as events that have happened: “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”

The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, to which Emporium of Benevolent Data refers, was an important inspiration for Michel Foucault when writing The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, for his fabulation on epistemological models out of “the laughter that shattered” and its echo “continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other.” This echo shall be heard from the depth of the exhibition, rather than forms of mediation of the ambivalent.

Excerpt from the curatorial text by Dimitrina Sevova and Alan Roth.

Adrien Guillet


Adrien Guillet, Citracit view, modified. 2016.

[English and German below]

Citracit est une uchronie, une fiction dystopique et anachronique qui explore les relations problématiques qu’a noué le constructeur automobile Citroën avec le continent africain. Ce projet prend corps par la création d’un ensemble de produits promotionnels modifiés, de sculptures et d’accessoires de facture artisanale africaine. Ces deux types de productions répondent à l’énoncé suivant : « On a retrouvé des cadeaux souvenirs Citracit qui devaient être vendus dans les boutiques des bordjs-hôtels Citroën. Ils ont échappé à l’ordre de destruction d’André Citroën ! ».

[ French above; German below ]

Citracit is a uchronia, a dystopian and anachronistic fiction that explores the problematic relations weaved by the automobile constructor Citroën with the African continent. The project takes shape through the creation of a number of modified advertising products, sculptures and accessories of African artisanship. These two types of productions respond to the following statement: “Citracit souvenir gifts have been found that were to be sold in the boutiques of the Citroën bordjs hotels. They escaped André Citroën’s order that they be destroyed!”

What does Citracit consist of?

As Alison Murray explains in her essay “Citroën Tourism” (see at the end of this document), the failure of the Trans-African Company was skillfully hushed up, so that Citracit was completely forgotten. The main objective of my project is to dig up the Trans-African Company following a strategy reverse to that of André Citroën. Since the communication material of the Trans-African Company was destroyed, I take care of producing them from scratch.

In my project, Citroën no longer exists, and is replaced by Citracit. In this uchronia, the founding of the Trans-African Company went well, and Citroën has not defaulted. In this parallel reality opened up by the Citracit project, Citroën is no longer a constructor of cars but embodies the very notion of exoticism, adventure and travel in the way of popular travel agencies.

I chose to call my project Citracit in order to bring back to the present the history of the Trans-African Company. This tourism project for a chain of camping sites and hotels in Africa was also called Centracit or CEGETAF. From Citroën to Citracit it is enough to delete a “oën” and replace it by “acit.” Three of the letters to append are already present in Citroën. As for the suffix “a,” it is easily created from the “r” of Citroën. In this play of typographical détournement lies the essence of the Citracit collection. Observing more precisely the Citracit logo that can be found ahead of this article on the first page, one can observe that the “acit” of Citracit is pixelized. What looks accidental is done on purpose and bears witness to the détournement style of the Citroën brand, a raw and DIY kind of détournement. The two chevrons of the logo become sacred clan symbols. We discover them once more on the sculptures, as motifs and texture.

Rather than attempting to find out what might have actually been sold in the souvenir gift boutiques of Citroën’s bordjs hotels in Africa, Citracit is taken as a starting point for a sculptural and conceptual reflection. Far from a historical reconstruction, the elements of the Citracit collection of souvenir gifts are a marriage between the African artisan codes and techniques, and a selection of second-hand promotional Citroën products. Online market places (Le Bon Coin, Ebay, Price Minister and Delcampe) allow me to collect at moderate cost advertising objects and tourist souvenirs from Africa I am interested in. The collection process in itself says something about our times, in the sense that it is mainly about online buying and postal shipping. This dematerialization of the act of buying breaks any possibility of a personal narration, and raises questions about the problem of recycling of symbols. Indeed the value of the souvenir gifts brought back from Africa by travelers is almost nil, since they consist of an ersatz of traditional African art, produced for tourists (airport art). While the great majority of Citroën advertising products are initially free, and intended to be given away (notion of reward and of communication) to clients, future clients, employees and institutions. These are thus indeed symbols, intrinsically poor fetish objects to which a strong history is attached.

The artefacts mixing the visual identity of Citroën and African aesthetics take the form of statuettes, clothes, bags, belts, gadgets, etc., where references cross and symbols enter into confrontation. Each element is the stage of a merciless struggle between the visual identity of Citroën and that of Citracit, between Europe and Africa, between cars and tourism, success and failure, serial production and manually produced work. The status of these creations is ambiguous, both travel memories via a tour operator that has never worked, and counter-advertising products, problematic in that they evoke a chapter of French colonial history that has been completely blanked out.

[French and English above]

Citracit ist eine Uchronie, eine dystopische und anachronistische Fiktion, welche die problematischen Beziehungen auskundschaftet, die der Autohersteller Citroën mit dem afrikanischen Kontinent gewoben hat. Das Projekt nimmt Gestalt an über die Schaffung einer Anzahl von abgeänderten Werbeprodukten, Skulpturen und Zubehör afrikanischen Handwerks. Die beiden Arten der Produktion entsprechen der folgenden Aussage: „Es wurden Citracit-Souvenirs gefunden, die in den Boutiquen von Citroëns Bordjs-Hotels hätten verkauft werden sollen. Sie entgingen André Citroëns Anweisung, sie sollten alle zerstört werden!“

Worin besteht Citracit?

Wie Alison Murray in ihrem Aufsatz „Citroën-Tourismus“ erklärt (siehe Anhang zu diesem Dokument), wurde das Versagen der Trans-Afrikanischen Gesellschaft so geschickt vertuscht, dass Citracit gänzlich in Vergessenheit geriet. Das Hauptziel meines Projekts liegt darin, die Trans-Afrikanische Gesellschaft auszugraben, einer Strategie folgend, die jener von André Citroën gegenläufig ist. Da das Kommunikationsmaterial der Trans-African Company zerstört wurde, mache ich mich daran, diese von Grund auf herzustellen.

In meinem Projekt existiert Citroën nicht mehr und wurde durch Citracit ersetzt. In dieser Uchronie ist die Einweihung der Trans-Afrikanischen Gesellschaft gut gegangen, und Citroën ist nicht Pleite gegangen. In der Parallelwirklichkeit, die das Citracit-Projekt aufmacht, ist Citroën nicht mehr ein Autohersteller, sondern verkörpert geradezu den Begriff des Exotismus, Abenteuer und Reisen in der Art begehrter Reisebüros.

Ich habe für mein Projekt den Titel Citracit gewählt, um die Geschichte der Trans-Afrikanischen Gesellschaft in die Gegenwart zurückzubringen. Dieses touristische Projekt für eine Reihe von Campingplätzen und Hotels in Afrika lief auch unter dem Namen Centracit oder CEGETAF. Um von Citroën zu Citracit zu gelangen, genügt es, ein „oën“ mit „acit“ zu ersetzen. Drei der Buchstaben, die es zu ersetzen gibt, sind bereits in Citroën zu finden. Das Suffix „a“ hingegen lässt sich einfach aus dem „r“ von Citroën herleiten. In diesem Spiel des typographischen détournement liegt das Wesen der Citracit-Sammlung. Eine genaue Betrachtung des Citracit-Logos, das diesem Artikel auf der ersten Seite voransteht, zeigt, dass das „acit“ von Citracit pixelisiert ist. Was zunächst als Zufall erscheinen mag, ist durchaus Absicht und verweist stilistisch auf das détournement der Marke Citroën, eine rohe und DIY Art des détournement. Die beiden Sparren des Logos werden zu heiligen Clan-Symbolen. Wir entdecken sie erneut in den Skulpturen, als Motiv und Textur.

Quentin Lannes


2015. HD video, color, silent, 3’20 looped and sound, 7’40 looped.

Dans l’installation vidéo / son #IamRebekah (2015), l'artiste a développé une fiction d’anticipation à partir de deux véritables personnalités publiques – Zoltan Istvan, candidat transhumaniste à la présidence des États-Unis en 2016 et Rebekah Marine, mannequin en situation de handicap et ambassadrice de la compagnie de prothèse Touch Bionics – dont il a imaginé les trajectoires politiques pour les années à venir sur fond de campagne électorale et de cyber-activisme.

In the video / sound installation #IamRebekah (2015), the artist developed an anticipatory fiction on the basis of two true public characters – Zoltan Istvan, transhumanist candidate to the US presidency in 2016, and Rebekah Marine, differently able fashion model and ambassador to the prosthetics company Touch Bionics – of which he imagined the political trajectories for the years to come, on the backdrop of an electoral campaign and cyber-activism.

The Next Round

Quentin Lannes, The Next Round. Video still, 2016.

2016. HD video.

L'installation vidéo et sonore VR Boxing (The Next Round) que l'artiste a développé pour le Corner College se situe dans le prolongement de l'installation #IamRebekah présentée aux Bourses de la Ville en décembre 2015 - janvier 2016 au Centre d'Art Contemporain, Genève. Il y poursuit ses recherches sur les relations entre corps humain et nouvelles technologies. Ici encore, il propose une fiction d'anticipation ancrée dans un futur proche, proposant
un regard sur l'évolution de nos pratiques actuelles.

Il s'est penché sur le récent développement des dispositifs permettant l'immersion dans une réalité virtuelle : par la vue (casques Oculus Rift et HTC Vive), le déplacement (plate-forme de mouvement Omni) et le
toucher (combinaison vibrante Teslasuit). Étonnamment, la plupart de ces dispositifs dits innovants existent
depuis le début des années 90 mais n'avaient pas trouvé un assez large public à l'époque, pourtant tourné vers
les années 2000. Je m'interroge sur les raisons qui amènent le grand public à enfin s'y intéresser aujourd'hui,
presque 30 ans plus tard.

La fiction VR Boxing questionne donc les pratiques du corps – ici le sport et plus précisément la boxe – à l'ère de ces dispositifs de réalité virtuelle.

Un boxeur, dont les mouvements sont enregistrés par des capteurs n'est pas confronté physiquement à son adversaire sur un ring mais combat une simulation numérique d'un autre boxeur, présent dans un autre espace physique, à des centaines de kilomètres de lui. Lorsqu'un coup atteint sa cible, une décharge électrique est envoyée à l'adversaire via sa combinaison. Une journaliste interroge le boxeur sur l'évolution de son sport, son appréhension de la douleur, son rapport au dispositif numérique remplaçant des interactions physiques, etc.

Le tournage s'effectue en deux temps :
captation vidéo traditionnelle à l'École de Boxe Erdal Kiran 1887, Genève.
captation de mouvement réalisée à Artanim, Meyrin.

The Next Round

The video and sound installation VR Boxing (The Next Round) that the artist developed for Corner College is situated in the prolongation of the installation #IamRebekah presented at the City Grants in December 2015 to January 2016 at the Contemporary Art Center in Geneva. In it, he continues his research on the relations between human body and new technologies. Once again, he proposes an anticipative fiction anchored in a near future, proposing a view on the evolution of our current practices.

He investigated the recent developments of dispositifs that allow immersion into a virtual reality: through sight (Oculus Rift helmets and HTC Vive), movement (Omni movement platform) and touch (vibrating Teslasuit). Surprisingly, most of these so-called innovative dispositifs have existed since the beginning of the 1990s but had not found a sufficiently large public at the time, which was turned towards the years 2000. He raises questions about the reasons that are finally stoking an interest with a larger public today, almost 30 years later.

The fiction VR Boxing thus raises questions about the practices of the body – here, sports, or more precisely, boxing – in the era of these virtual reality dispositifs.

A boxer whose movements are registered by captors is not physically confronted with his adversary in a ring but fights a numerical simulation of another boxer, present in another physical space hundreds of kilometers away. When a punch hits its target, an electrical discharge is sent to the adversary through his suit. A journalist interviews the boxer on the evolution of his sport, his perception of violence, his relation to the numerical dispositif that replaces physical interaction, etc.

The shooting takes place in two phases:
Capturing of traditional video at the École de Boxe Erdal Kiran 1887, Geneva.
Capturing of movements operated at Artanim, Meyrin.

Two flyers for the exhibition. Design: code flow.

This exhibition was made possible by the kind support of the French Embassy in Switzerland.

Posted by Corner College Collective