On ne remarque pas l’absence d’un inconnu (“You don’t notice a stranger’s absence”): the sentence rings like a slogan and like a self-evident fact. Using the codes of mass communication, such as posters, a widely used communication tool, Philippe Cazal constructs a semantic body of work that is simple and powerful, poetic and political. In the context of the Exile Pavilion, this manifesto resonates with an entire ethical reflection on the close and the distant, the value given to “the other who has a face” or to “the other that I will never see”, as French philosopher Paul Ricoeur would say. Who is he and did he ever even exist, he who dies between borders or on a shore, and that I have never known nor even looked in the eye? In the same spirit of urban interventions, Je veux une suite et pas une fin (“I want a continuation and not an end”), which can be interpreted as a refugee’s cry of hope, is paint- ed with a stencil on the outside wall of the gallery.
Born in 1948 in La Redorte, Philippe Cazal lives and works in France. Philippe Cazal is a French artist whose practice of misusing the codes of the world of advertising and marketing produces a critical discourse on the city, politics, economy and society but also on the place that occupies today the artist. His work has been exhibited many times, including the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Par- is, the Barbican Center in London, the FRAC Languedoc-Roussillon but also the Villa Park in Annemasse. After studying at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris, he created with Jean-Paul Albi- net and Alain Snyers in 1975 (joined in 1978 by Wilfrid Rouff) group UNTEL. This group of artists proposes to examine our daily life and its banality as well as public space in a series of actions and interventions, often performed in the street, inviting the public to rethink the world. At the Biennale de Paris in 1977, they invest the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris with Daily Life, a department store type environment where more than two thousand objects of every- day life are presented under vacuum. By targeting consumerism, this fake self-service questions the habit.