In Hong Kong, Eric Baudart Puts a Megaphone in Oil and Covers Street Posters in Gold
The thin wail of a megaphone siren is the first sensory experience that one encounters upon entering Eric Baudart’s first solo show in Hong Kong, at Edouard Malingue Gallery. Mewing quietly, the looping sounds reach visitors’ ears before the source of the sound, Atmosphère (2015), comes into view. The work comprises a bullhorn streaming incessant sound waves while submerged in a tank of viscous oil. On the surface of the liquid, subtle lines of movement mark where the sound pushes through the oil to reach the air.
“I saw the megaphone in the Hong Kong protests last year,” Baudart explains. “The piece is not a direct inspiration of that, though.” In fact, it is part of an ongoing series in which the French artist immerses objects in gold oil, testing the physical elements of sound or airwaves. A larger tank contains a cornucopia of vintage fans, rotating at a meditative pace. “Oil just makes it all run smoother,” Baudart says.
For this show, titled “again, again and again,” Baudart has constructed a nexus between illusions of objects and the realities of how we see and process the world around us. The repetitions of whirring fans and bleating megaphones are mirrored in other works here that express the idea of infinite looping; Baudart’s penchant for using everyday objects and symbols is likewise on full display. Cubikron 3.0 (2015) is an architectural grid made from mattress springs, which may be understood as one-dimensional in their singular functionality—but when multiplied repeatedly, a dynamic diagonal pattern emerges, as the structure takes on new dimensions physically and conceptually. In another series, “Paillasson” (2015), doormats have been worn and scratched almost beyond recognition, appearing more like abstract paintings than their original forms.
“I would like people to learn again, to look at whatever’s in front of them and find new relations with these elementary objects,” Baudart says. “A chair is a chair—it’s a support, but it could also be something else. I find it curious that some artists always feel like they have to make something new. I try to work with things that are around me.”
Perhaps the most ostentatious work here is Concav (2015), which strips several wall posters of their original context and information. Having found these abandoned posters stacked up on the side of the road, Baudart spray-painted each one a lustrous gold, repeatedly layering them, much like the papering over of street posters in cities around the world. Baudart reminds us that nothing is quite as it seems in its original, or “natural,” state and ordinary things are so often worth another look.