“I wish I could tell you about the South Pacific’’that is the opening sentence of the series of short stories titled ’’Tales of the South Pacific’’ by J.A Michener and published in 1948, which inspired the title of this exhibition. Michener describes episodes of war waged by the U.S. Army in the South Pacific. In the manner of a storyteller, he evokes the ambiguous beauty of the islands, while addressing the conflicts and the inevitable cultural differences between soldiers and natives.Bondu maxime seems work in the same way. In the manner of a historian, he searched, and seeks, works from archives and documents to build his stories, impregnated by a heavy historical past and a disconcerting poetry.
On one hand, a dreaming perspective on the South Pacific, On a second questions about the conquest of space. Whether place of experimentation, or colonization, the question of space is always a matter of appropriation. With the Guam Island Collection, he gives us a vision of happyness and sadness, almost cliché, mountains and deserts on ocean background. Fauna, flora, people, customs, idyllic landscapes, make us almost forget that this is not a paradise island. Spanish colony, then place for conversion to Catholicism, the island was ceded to the United States who make a stopover air base. Occupied by the Japanese, it is taken by the USA in 1944 and in 1950 became a military base. Maxime Bondu chooses to show us his entire collection (480 slides) re-photographed on a light table, organized and transformed in contact sheet. He choose to extract an image and show it separately. This photograph is printed but especially remastered by the artist. This act, more than just a restoration, is a reinvention of pieces of scenery. The holes on the positive film caused by the ravages of time have been systematically completed, looking for the good color, good texture. Memories of wars or holidays, this photograph is more a remember of a certain conquest.
The chairs turned to this photograph emit severals meanings. These chairs, called «Wesport chair» or «Adirondacks» are part of the traditional furniture of the Great Lakes region in the United States. They are used for comfort, rest and contemplation of the landscape. Maxime Bondu called them ‘‘documentaries sculptures’’ because extract from a document, and declined from a previous work of the artist which appears here as a photocopy. Again, there is an ambiguity between contemplation and what these men contemplate, a nuclear explosion. These chairs are pretty incongruous in such context, especially when we knows that the image was made on an aircraft carrier. Maxime Bondu oscillates between contemplation and terror, referring constantly to the context of his exhibition which seems to reflect the neuroses of the postmodern man.
Bénédicte Le Pimpec, 2010.