ITEM IDEM’S VOIR DIRE
By Lars Byrresen Petersen
When stumbling upon a group of mutilated, inflatable animals next to a hybrid between a Chanel and a McDonalds logo there’s only one thing to do: stop and find out who’s behind the ludicrousness. French artist Cyril Duval aka Item Idem (latin for ‘the same’) creates colorful art pieces as a way of commenting on outsiders’ view on Western pop-culture and logo-mania. As his first US solo-exhibition is approaching, the artist is taking us on a tour through his archive and his creative evolution.
Having grown up with a mother working at Hermès and a Father who was an interior decorator, Duval is no stranger to the quirks of the luxury industry, which he often comments on through his work. “My mom has always had an anti consumerist point of view. She’s almost 70 now, but in the 80s when everyone started wearing black, she was like ‘oh, I can’t take that I’m dressing in white,’” he laughs.
After six years at École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy, Duval left the French capital for Tokyo. “I was gravitating there for a couple of months just to see what was happening to me. I had just graduated from my art school so I was like you know…” he smiles, taking a drag of his cigarette before continuing. “I got discovered by Sarah Andelman, the creative director of Colette, who was looking for someone to work inside the Comme des Garçons company to operate a project they were doing together called Colette meets Comme des Garçons, which was sort of like the beginning of pop ups,” he explains, adding a “ugh, when you hear that word now.”
His breakthrough came in 2005 when he designed a concept store for the eccentric German designer Bernhard Willhelm. “Bernard wanted a scene about garbage, and there was an architectural studio hired, who started making renderings with fake garbage, and I was like ‘no, no that’s not possible.’ So I visited homeless communities in Japan, who are extremely sophisticated in their resourceful use of cardboard and layers of plastic and their use of ropes to tie it all together–it’s almost like bondage. It’s architecture,” he explains, excitedly. The store won him the Great Indoors Award in 2007 and his career was launched.
“It’s going to be a big jubilee,” Duval says, describing ‘Voir Dire,’ his exhibition, which is scheduled for sometime in the fall at Johannes Vogt Gallery in NYC. “Initially, I thought 70-80% new, but now I think it’s closer to 90%. So brand new,” he explains, including that there will be a few archival pieces like one of his repurposed Louis Vuitton coats as well as a coat made entirely from Comme des Garçons care labels.
“Well my eye and my emotions are very much directed everywhere I go, all around the world. I have this amazing African fabric that says “Jesus Christ my Lord my Savior” embossed with a superman looking logo. So a lot of those cultural bridges give a sense that the show is new, but some of the materials or ideas I sourced eight or ten years ago. I’m sort of a cultural hoarder,” he says, explaining the inspiration behind the upcoming show. “I’ll have a living octopus in the show.”