Retrospective monograph: an exhaustive overview of more than fifteen years of artistic practice.
Spanning fifteen years of artistic practice, this monograph derives its title from a 1913 avant-garde Cubo-Futurist opera celebrating the demise of the sun. It confronts us with the speculative state of reality after the end of the world, a barren ontological wasteland in which artifacts have lost their utility. In his work, Xavier Mary is concerned with the dreams and nightmares of modernity, resulting from its inherently industrial nature. The sense of an impending apocalypse or total destruction seems particularly topical for the current times. Where the Promethean nature of technology typically allowed humans to liberate themselves from the whims of nature (such as the limited availability of sunlight), this gift for self-preservation has now given way to the threat of self-annihilation. And yet, in the zero point of the apocalypse, an ontological truth is revealed: everything suddenly manifests itself in its inexorable materiality, a ghostly cosmos of autonomous objects.
In combining a thoughtful selection of exhibition views and text contributions by guest authors, Victory over the Sun
offers the first comprehensive overview of Xavier Mary's intriguing oeuvre. In a conversation with Pieter Vermeulen, Xavier Mary looks back at the benchmarks in his artistic career, his theoretical references and influences, ranging from his industrial environment to the temple architecture of Angkor Vat. In his contribution, Benoît Lamy de La Chapelle takes the road network in Europe as a starting point to shed light on the uniqueness of Mary's sculptures and installations. Claire Contamine, in her turn, situates his work against the backdrop of the rave culture as it emerged in the post-industrial society of the 1990s. Finally, Pierre-Olivier Rollin's contribution looks at the ruins of modernity in Mary's work, at its dreams, nightmares and the spectres that continue to haunt him. In his essay—which has proven highly influential for Xavier Mary—art critic and philosopher Boris Groys
refers to Victory over the Sun
in order to address the often misconceived role of technology, the idea of utopia and the origin of the work of art. His contribution has therefore been reprinted at the beginning of this book.
Xavier Mary (born in 1982 in Liege, lives and works in Brussels) is a Belgian artist whose work oscillates between post-industrial sculptures and post-apocalyptic realism.