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Against nature

Blind Spot, Theater of Operations, Garden against Nature, Heterotopias, Scene of Abandonment, Exhibits: going from one twist to another, the artistic walk on which Michel François leads us, through a journey that looks like a “total work of art” or an anti-epic divided into chapters, is not a relaxing one.

“Coudes” 1991
“Elbows” 1991

© Michel François

In the first room, we are trapped in our own image by a panopticon1 covered with mirrors while two screens show us in close-up the moving and shimmering surface of the bubbles formed by gas fields in Azerbaijan.

Savon Femelle 1991
© Michel François

After this stunning Blind Spot, the Belgian artist takes us into the Theater of Operations – those of the Syrian war – where the lines of the armed forces have been drawn with a saw in the thickness of the wooden picture rail, in front of which a white flag is intermittently fluttering in an air tank…“

“What interests me is the living… it is to express the fragility, the instability…”

Photo atelier / Bruxelle 2019
© Michel François

After the breath of an illusory peace, the scarcity of water, another tragedy of the world: Seeming to trickle down through a network of tiny pipes, water appears in tromp’ l’oeil in the Unnatural Garden in transparent or contaminated (with black spots) hanging resin puddles, before trickling (in real life) over a block of rock salt imperceptibly dissolving under the effect of this flow… Like so many pieces of evidence, bags filled with water colonized by polystyrene bubbles and a shower of fake resin bottles suspended further on our passage, remind us of our good (or bad) conscience… 


Fortunately, we can take refuge in our Heterotopias. Of these “other spaces” defined by Michel Foucault during a conference given in 1967 as a physical localization of the utopia, concrete spaces which shelter the imaginary, Michel François made his small theaters. Installations and models similar to sets, from one of these improbable places, “escaping logic,” taken in photographs, by chance, at the bend in a street, during a trip to India… A simple piece of dilapidated wall, a clothesline, the remains of a wood fire: to imagine a story, to invent a fiction…

L’attribut alt de cette image est vide, son nom de fichier est 22_Photo-atelier-2022-768x1024.jpg.
Photo atelier / Bruxelles 2022
© Michel François

To give us the means to escape from our prisons, as the artist enjoins us to in front of his sky-blue cement wall, transforming the stones into clouds…

1 Panopticon: Prison architecture imagined by the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham and his brother Samuel at the end of the 18th century, allowing from a central point, generally a tower, the observation of all occupants of a building.   


Rue Ravenstein 23, 1000 Brussels

Until July 21


Stéphanie Dulout