Watou Watou 2023
The work of Marc Hamandjian is characterised by the concept of exploration. In his installations he makes frequent use of mobile objects and vehicles such as caravans, pedal boats, minibuses but also waiting rooms that could act as a point of departure. However, they are all stationary. Either they are ready to leave or perhaps they have just arrived.
The caravans evoke a connotation of vacation and a form of nomadism. In every case there is a form of exploration. But exploration of what? A certain field of tension arises that primarily appeals to our imagination. Where do these vehicles and spaces come from? What world do they belong to?
Despite their science fiction like identity they are firmly rooted on earth. In his scale models and sculptures Hamandjian likes to refer to the futuristic architecture and design language of the sixties. The antennas of his hybrid mobiles are aimed at another world but the alienating images they capture are those of the earth that Hamandjian’s video collages confront us with.
Options are given to leave earth: a caravan vacation in space or shooting into outer space seated on a Vespa from an impressive launch platform. In both cases there is a kind of office where candidates can register. A panel with the legend ‘Quitter la terre?’ is not so much an invitation as it is a question. Here, too, reference is mostly made to a possibility. An actual departure is never in the cards and that is precisely why it is a question.
For the festival Hamandjian develops a kind of belfry, a high tower with dish antennas, built on and around a small caravan. The title ‘Watou Watou’ refers to the French animated series ‘Wattoo Wattoo’ from the seventies. It features a small hybrid figure, half bird, half fish, that lives on the square planet Auguste and frequently assists earth and its inhabitants with a variety of ecological and social issues. The series is shown in part on a large screen mounted onto the caravan. This creates a strong link with our contemporary issues in a frivolous, imaginative and slightly absurd manner. The question with all this is whether we should abandon earth or, conversely, explore it.
Thanks to Jean-Michel Gascuel, producer of the NFR series ‘Wattoo Wattoo le retour!’.
Marc Hamandjian’s universe is somewhere between utopia and science fiction. His hybrid vehicles and habitats are immaculately white and await discovery or exploration, while the titles of his work often allude to another cosmos that may in fact be earthly. Influenced by Philip K. Dick’s humor and irony, a “conceptual distance” causes “a problem of recognition” for the viewer.