'Art is never as it was thought. Let things interfere in projects. I have trouble explaining my work; it represents just what people want to see. We often let ourselves dictate what we should think. Art does not serve this purpose.'
Sylvie Fleury, 2015
Curator en Hoofd Musée d’Art et l’Histoire de la Ville, Genève, Zwitserland
"The year 1990 marks the start of Sylvie Fleury’s career, which has rapidly soared to great heights on the international art scene. The fascination her work commands is due in large measure to the irritating confusion—deliberately iconoclastic—it arouses between art and fashion. At her first exhibition in 1990 she presented monochromes and "Mondrians" in synthetic fur, "Fontanas" in ripped-up jeans, "Rymans" splattered with nailpolish: a number of emblematic icons of artistic modernism that she "bastardizes" by linking them to products stemming from the world of fashion. As commonplace as it is for fashion designers to take over certain artistic forms, the opposite generally arouses mistrust. And well it might! As Lionel Bovier points out, "operating this sort of parallelism empties works of their primary content, violently depriving them of the critical context that serves to validate them, [and] projecting them into the ephemeral world of luxury and taste, where an object’s value is not attached to the significance it produces but to the consumption it suscitates." Despite pop art and its manner of reducing artworks to the status of products, this taboo is far from eradicated. The potential for provocation that inhabits Sylvie Fleury’s work remains altogether intact. Reducing objects even more radically to their sole exchange value, indeed voiding them almost entirely of all content, Fleury sets her "shopping bags" on display. This installation is comprised of the actual purchases acquired in a day of shopping at various fashionable clothes and cosmetics boutiques. Viewers are presented with the famous brand-name boxes and bags—famous indeed, but nevertheless mere packaging. This art no longer conveys a sense of establishing the work’s monetary value. Rather, it sets into circulation a luxury product whose value-added sum derives from the fame attached to the last go-between. The same iconographic approach is involved when Fleury latches onto objects symbolic of our consumer society: the cover pages of women’s magazines luring readers with promises of male bodies good enough to eat, and which she submits to enlargements; the bedroom furniture that, in a pastiche of Claes Oldenburg, she drapes with fake fur skins; the American cars she shellacs in blatant nailpolish colors. Her technique starts out with the appropriation of consumer icons or fetishes, and ends up with their transfer to a different scale of values. It comes as no surprise then, that one of her basic and recurring motifs is the various means of transportation venerated by today’s consumer society. Echoing her Mamco exhibition in Geneva in 1996, Sylvie Fleury’s project for São Paulo focuses on rockets. Her installation consists of seven 350-centimeter rockets that incorporate hidden loudspeakers blaring a closed-circuit soundtrack mixing spatial resonances with voices reciting publicity slogans, like "Moisturizing is the answer." The installation is delimited by giant wall paintings featuring more slogans written against variously colored backdrops, while the rockets themselves are not only limited to lipstick color shades but share that object’s totemic and metaphoric function."