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22 Jun 2009

Making a hit - as an art piece by Fabienne Audéoud

A performance by Fabienne Audéoud


The single 'sisters: a hit for a museum' and the album 'read my lips' availbable for download on iTunes and most digital download platforms.

Since 2007, the performance 'the hit' has been presented at Serralves Fondation (Porto), at the ICA (London), Magazin 4 (Bregenz), Petit Palais (Paris)...

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Producing a hit- as an art piece.

In Africa -to cut a long story short- the value of a mask or a sculpture is tightly linked to their functions and actions performed within the group. The object makes sense through a renewed physical interpretation. Likewise music or dance happens not so much in front of an audience but with them.

This « taking part » is what really interested me (and I'm not talking about forced forms of participation – like fisher price art… 'press on the little cow button and it will mooe '- or having to stand in semi-circle around a performer- more often by lack of chairs than for a real participation purpose…

I tried to start this project in Dakar. That was where I got the idea… and I had met a lot of very good musicians there. I won't go into details… one week in Guinea Bissau with Oussou n'Dour's marabout, visions, sacrifices, purifications, but not one note played… Back in Paris, where I live now, the 'dispositif' of my performance was not quite clear enough, or maybe too much a music thing… for the institutions without which one can't be a serious artist in France… until a curator from the National Museum of Modern Art (Beaubourg) got interested in the project in relation to their exhibition about women artists from their collection (elles@centrepompidou). I re-wrote a song - about women... made a new video... but a performance – happening out there 'in da real world' was too weird a project… I'm still hoping to make it enter the big machine…

click on the youtube link... give me some 'size'....

I was often told that this performance was a just a music bet, and that songs had their own context and that they couldn't become a piece of art.
It's not the composition and the lyrics that can make it a piece of art but it's what happens around the song.
The material is musical but it operates on multiple layers. Music is here is a social, economical, and cultural marqueur.
It's not about de-contextualising nor « representing » something in the safe space of the museum (museum are quite safe for music…) but about performing an action. It deals with connections and therefore with actions.


For Deleuze and Guattari, these transversal connections are what make art….
For Adorno, an art piece is a contradiction, which is not closed and but opens a gap, a form of uncertainty… In The Hit, it's the contradictions, the movements and gestures that interest me. It's about performing a position, an action.

Trying to make a hit enter a museum is bringing some anti-art into art. The result of this action is the questioning of the definition of art as well as class structures or social issues. (Malevitch's white square, Duchamp's urinal, Tracey Emin's bed... this can't be art… 'the ugly low class people' in Courbet's paintings, la Cicciolina in Jeff Koons' work… should they be there?... Damien Hirst is doing business not art….)


A hit is a song reaching to top of charts (sales, donwloads…). It's about quantity rather than quality – and this not a value judgement but the analysis of the term.
The claim of this piece is that he audience has become a figure, a calculation defining a group through its size and ability to receive and consume a product.
Cultural industries therefore sell figures to figures. One doesn't consume music but a taste finding its justification in its size. One ends up paying for a new form of participation which is 'taking part' in the definition of oneself (drawn by marketing teams)
The audience buys itself…

I'm not trying to unveil the capitalist machine since its strategy is not even hidden. In France if you listen to radio NRJ, you listen to hit music only, the size of music.
On TV shows, you always have to watch the representation of the audience, when the large audience (at home) is inviting to vote…
It looks like a new democratic ritual to me.
When other others will discover the Western civilisation of the 21rst century- like Africa or America was discovered- they might say: 'these people have the strange habit of watching themselves applaud and they count themselves all the time…'


At a Parisian diner, a producer head my album « read my lips ». I was not there but I was told he said he hadn't heard anything so new in years/ When I met in his office on les champs élysées, he told he thought people wouldn't understand, that he couldn't produce what he liked but was people liked and was the market was asking for… I thought about reggae, hip hop house music, for sure, it couldn't have come out of this office… then I remembered an add for a sport channel I had seen in London « we know what you like: we like it too »
Do you, really??