|"Yeah, well this here is also an exhibition room, eh"|
The introductory panel to the exhibition also provides all of the necessary clues to coach visitors to prepare themselves for what they are about to experience. This is a tongue-in-cheek parody of a comics exhibition whose comedy is amplified because it takes the piss out of a typical comics exhibition by presenting itself as one. This sense of absurdity even informs the encouragement to go downstairs to the Walking Dead exhibition first to get an understanding of how comics (and comics exhibitions) work before returning upstairs!
For example, the presentation of Marchalot's work is not meant to fetishize his original artwork, but to showcase in very broad terms the comedic register that grounds it. The text boxes only provide the title information of each piece and its date of creation. There is no other metadata about the work other than Marchalot's running commentary, which he uses in a self-deprecating, exaggerated and parodic tone to both inflate and take the piss out of his own work.
The framed pages could be read on the wall as well as in their respective published versions from Les Requins Marteaux, which were chained in a deliberately ridiculous manner to their display tables. Whether it was a public action of reading on the wall with other people at the same time or an individual reading of the chained books, many of the visitors that were present while I was there were outright laughing out loud - first at the gag, then at the commentary.
There are certain points in the exhibition where visitors must certainly begin to pick up on what Marchalot is up to. The photos below offer some of the exhibition highlights where the absurdity is self-evident. No cow is too sacred for Marchalot, especially when it comes to the discourse of comics exhibitions. The absurdity that he associates with the way that comics aesthetics, form and content are currently valorized and discussed presents readymade targets to take down.
|Newspaper and magazine covers. Appeared between 1975 and 2019.|
|Planche de bédé sauvage. Captured on the outskirts of Bretagnolle, Corrèze, 2019|
|Actual Caption: "The author desperately seeking to leave the underground". 2019.|