Peter Downsbrough

Peter Downsbrough

Frac Bourgogne

August 27, 2004

Peter Downsbrough
11 September - 20 November 2004

FRAC Bourgogne
49 rue de Longvic, 21000 Dijon
telephone + 33 [0]3 80 67 18 18
fax + 33 [0]3 80 66 33 29
infos [​at​]

Opening: Friday 10 September from 6 pm
Hours: Monday to Saturday from 2-6 pm

The Peter Downsbrough exhibition that will be on view at the FRAC Burgundy until 30 November offers a chance not only to better discover the videos which are still a little known aspect of the artist’s work, but also to grasp the way they cohere with the wall pieces, which are the works usually shown in France, the pieces over city plans, and the books, with the publication of the book MANY. For, taken as a whole, his research deals with the construction of space and the way his pieces make it possible to come up with a re-reading of it, and enhance our understanding of it. This exhibition will be complemented by the production of a work in Place Bossuet in Dijon, in the course of 2005, which will help visitors to gauge the whole wealth of the work of this American artist, who has been living for several years in Brussels, and made spacing – which is at once cutting and opening – the focus of his oeuvre.

The pieces which revealed Peter Downsbrough’s work in Europe, in the mid-1970s, formed the Two Poles and Two Pipes. This involved two wooden or black metal bars, set inside the exhibition space and in the environment. In the wake of minimalist sculpture, these site markings showed the place but, for the artist, they also represented a stance, a position taken up, which is incidentally the title of his latest catalogue (POSITION), which was published for his exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in 2003. “My aim is to show that […] we shouldn’t take up positions without thinking about them. You have to make a choice. It’s not haphazard”. He thus tries to get the viewer to be attentive, and think about the relations
between things.

His line of thinking about the description of space, based on notions of situation and context, is applied to constructed space as well as to language. So in 1980, he made the Wall Pieces and Room Pieces for which he associated lines, rods and tubes with words. The viewer was thus inside something with which he had to dialogue, both physically and mentally, among the infinite possibilities of the interplay of spaces and words. A large number of works express this rich idea, one such being The Ring (1982-1993), which belongs to the FRAC Burgundy collection, and is on view here.

This framing of space is obviously extended by the use of photography, which the artist used initially to document his works. But from 1975 photographs played a major part in his research and brought out the factors which order the cityscape, and its structure, and lend it meaning. In the 1970s, film and then video displayed another of the aspects of space in which Peter Downsbrough has been interested: time. With ET/C (2004), a film made for the show, he proposes a journey from one city to another, showing the importance of urban space, and the way our perception of it today is heightened by all the movements we make.

Space is thus defined as a sequence of different contexts, and not as a totally comprehensible reality based on a unique viewpoint. His projects for public places, initiated in 1990 at Rennes, incorporate the environment within the space of the work and thus within the space of the viewer’s reading of it. They accordingly appear like structures which both show the place and alter it. This is the project currently under way for the Place Bossuet in Dijon. We can also (re)discover the two pieces made for the Le Creusot University Library in 1998. one outside, DE, ET, LA, the other inside, ENTRETEMPS/ DE, ET, OU.

The book MANY (2004), likewise produced for this show, mixes the many elements of the artist’s oeuvre in a volume which is nothing if not dense. Maps, words, lines and images follow on one from the other at a frantic pace, alerting our vigilance to the world and dealing with the book’s space like a prism with countless facets.

Mobility and passage thus lie at the heart of the way Peter Downsbrough works, as he transposes his reflections from one place to another, in the form of maquettes and sounds, postcards and moving images, books and photographs, filling the exhibition venue and the public place alike. He thus invites us to “look about us and take an interest in what is there”, turning this inventory into a possibility. He says as much to Sarah McFadden during an interview to be published by the FRAC Burgundy in the catalogue 1:1 x temps – quantites, proportions, et fuites: “You can’t necessarily change the course of the world and maybe you don’t want to, but you have to be aware of it. That way you can start to think: “Well, maybe it is possible to do things differently” “.
Free guided visit: Saturday 9 October at 3 pm at the Frac
Publication of the DVD “ET/C” and the book “MANY” on the day of the opening
Publication of a catalogue at the end of the exhibition
Production in 2004-2005 of an outside piece VERS/ AND, DE, ET, LA, place Bossuet in Dijon (with the support of the city of Dijon)

This exhibition was made possible through the support of the Minister of Culture (DRAC: Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs of Burgundy), the Regional Council of Burgundy and the General Council of the Cote d’Or.

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Frac Bourgogne
August 27, 2004

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