Pleased to meet you # 7, 2019
Text by Jacques Soulillou and interview by Catherine Millet
To present the artist as a rock star as this deluxe fanzine pretends, seems a bit like stating the obvious in the case of Présence Panchounette, this explosive live band, with their punkish tendencies. 'We are against all the rest and there looks to be a lot of them. Heroism.' They insist with insolent bravado. Between 1969 and 1990, Présence Panchounette dynamited all hierarchies of taste and de-sublimated dominant culture within a conceptual battle, played to the rules using pamphlets, attacks and cultural hijackings / raptures. The intolerable innocence of the mundane is trashed as much as looted: hence a tendency to wallow in cheap trash and to campaign for the cacophony of signs. Music!
Between 1969 and 1990, the Présence Panchounette collective banzaï-attacked the art world with an onslaught of press releases, fliers, irreverent mailing and butthead deeds. Primally active in Bordeaux, the group spread its action on to the international art scene, whose aesthetic hypocrisies and ideological taboos it pinned down with jovial ferocity. Celebrating the “chounette spirit”, they promoted an apologia of the worst, riding on a real trivial pursuit, supporting the vulgar versus the seriousness of “modernity”. Présence Panchounette would stand out, fighting against the values and tastes championed by the most influential cultural circles of that time. But, bad omen, the bravado of the Bordeaux-based collective would also anticipate movements born in the Eighties, like Appropriation and Neoconceptual art, which, as such, would find their place gently and comely in the historical official bios or genealogies. Concerned with not smothering its verve in the pernicious Pandora trunk of compromise and mendacity, Présence Panchounette turned its back on honours and remained stone deaf to the attracting songs of institutional sirens, until it announced its disbanding in 1990.
In 2008, the Présence Panchounette collective agreed to play “the exhibition game”, but still without tipping over into the smug spirit of commemorations. Refusing the CAPC's invitation, the group was happier to disseminate—extra-muros—twenty years of production in fourteen unexpected sites throughout the city.
Their work can be found in the collections of The Musée national d’art moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou, the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, the MAC/VAL (Vitry-sur-Seine), the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, the Frac Midi-Pyrénées, Pays-de-Loire, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Aquitaine, Corse and Basse-Normandie. In 2011, 2014 and 2016, Semiose gallery curated three solo exhibitions (Présence Panchounette 1969-1990, P.P.P. - Présence Panchounette Photographies and Présence Panchounette), and their works are currently exhibited at the MAC/VAL in Vitry-sur-Seine and at the Parc Culturel de Rentilly - FRAC Île-de-France.