Paris-based artist collective Claire Fontaine presents a large burning art installation via a breathtaking video. The title of the work P.I.G.S. uses the acronym created by financial media to pejoratively refer to Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain since the late 2000s recession.*
The installation is a selective map of Europe that only shows Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, created with thousands of matchsticks planted into holes hand-drilled into a wall. The video kicks off at the moment of its ignition. The theme symbolizes the symbolizes the catastrophic consequences of the “burning debt” plaguing Southern Europe. The destruction of economies, countries, social structures and most important people’s lives.
The burning of the representation of these territories ironically refers to the global socio-political instability following the recent financial crisis, but it is also a poetic comment on the innumerable wasted lives, mutilated and sacrificed because of the corruption of the system. The video of the burning of Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain illustrates the metaphor of the destruction of the first countries that faced severe financial problems in the euro zone. This fire, which represents at present time merely the destructive violence of the financial crisis, could be the one of a revolution, burning the debt before people get burned.
Also beside the burning sculpture there is also a neon sign present that reads “No Present”, a hijacking of the punk slogan “No Future”, and it refers to the economical and historical conjuncture that sees many countries and their inhabitants deprived not only of a future but also of the possibility of a daily life that isn’t just survival. The debt caused by the greed of a few in fact burdens entire populations, obliterating the minimal rights for millions of people, such as getting married, leaving one’s parents’ house, or hoping to get a job. It can legitimately be said that now there is no present in a similar sense that the Sex Pistols used to sing “No Future”. The present is always something shared and collectively created; a sum of solitudes only creates an absence of the present, the impossibility of its narration and the difficulty to grasp its transient consistency. No Present also has a double meaning, which is “There are no presents for anyone”, as this is a time where everything must be earned and often at an unfair price.
‘…hundreds of matchsticks, allude to the global socio-political instability that is the by-product of the recent financial downturn’
Claire Fontaine is a Paris-based collective artist, founded in 2004. After lifting her name from a popular brand of school notebooks, Claire Fontaine declared herself a “readymade artist” and began to elaborate a version of neo-conceptual art that often looks like other people’s work. Working in neon, video, sculpture, painting and text, her practice can be described as an ongoing interrogation of the political impotence and the crisis of singularity that seem to define contemporary society today.
* “P.I.G.S. is a grouping acronym used by international bond analysts, academics, and by the international economic press that refers to the faltering and often indebted economies of Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain, often in regards to matters relating to sovereign debt markets. Some news and economic organizations have limited or banned use of these acronyms due to perceived offensive connotations.” (Wikipedia)