Florian Sumi — Maître Cœur


Design, drawing, installation, photography...

Florian Sumi
Maître Cœur

Past: July 1 → 29, 2017

Curated by : Emmanuelle Chiappone-Piriou in dialogue with Galerie Escougnou-Cetraro

To enter. To take one’s shoes off. To sit down. To immerse oneself. To wait. To wait some more. To drowse, maybe. To detach oneself. To wipe oneself. To put one’s shoes on again. To stand up. To get out.

Verbs from the first and third groups1.

Suggestions for the use of the Escougnou-Cetraro gallery new domestic landscape2.


Future has been there the whole time said one of the advertising billboards Florian Sumi presented in 2014. Which one? — one would want to ask. What temporal regimen can the artist once again summon at a time when utopia ceased to be operative, and when big data has substituted it with predictability? Maybe a barely differed time that the present swallows and invalidates by a constant acceleration process.

Admittedly, Sumi has a tendency to proceed by hypothesis, by a succession of « what ifs» whose plurality induce a hint of incompossibility. « What if »: this prologue necessary to any speculation exercise is a powerful discursive and analytical apparatus that, acting as an almost magical invocation, through a mechanism that activates imagination, opens the scientific and political fields.

From nano to organic, from cognitive to digital, all dimensions are conveyed in Sumi’s microfictions on the human nature in a post-(human, internet) era. A series of tables present the drawings and objects following a conceptual classification, rendering the multiple research fields, the multifaceted knowledge and skills that are mobilized and diverted from their intended uses, and the preoccupations and techniques implemented. Beyond the questions’ diversity, this corpus nonetheless reveals some constants. In the way of the “meridians” — of which this Maître Cœur3, who, according to certain practices of medicine, goes through the various body parts to distribute the organs’ action — Sumi creates interconnections between his various speculative projects, answering to methodological and conceptual continuities.

One thing that is noticeably striking in this collection of elements is the design approach, besides the creation work, that Sumi undertakes. It makes him close to the designer or the architect, researching on one hand the systemic nature of things in our world and producing on the other hand a series of objects whose structure gets finer and finer one drawing after the other. These objects induce various uses, in the way they are made useful by the use one has of them, but nothing in their use is commonly agreed or generally accepted. Pill display stand, lightning rod, ashtray… prototypes or scale models, Sumi’s objects all have an effective or potential functionality, experienced among others in filmed or photographed scenarios.

In the exhibition Maître cœur, the visitor is virtually invited to the intimate ritual of flesh purification, which is the footbath. What could be practiced in the dampness of a private bathroom here takes a strange connotation. Although this kind of device is usually given a clinical and neat finishing thanks to the industrial manufacturing processes, the surprise one feels is not generated by its artisanal aspect . Nor does this feeling of strangeness come from — or not only from — the topographic studies of bodies used as a decor to the foot cabinet. This feeling rather comes from the device’s possible normality induced by the « what if ». This age-old practice is displaced by the entanglement of domestic and urban scales, as well as by the plausible exhibition of one’s intimacy in the gallery space, and, extensively, in the street, in the city. Ultimately, doubts over the fact that it could fundamentally alter our sensations take hold. Creating furniture for creating worlds is undoubtedly a way to sum up Florian Sumi’s program.

Emmanuelle Chiappone-Piriou

1 Refers to French grammar, in which verbs are classified within three groups

2 Refers to the exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape presenting Italian architects’ and designers’ work at the MoMA in 1972. Curated by Emilio Ambasz. 3. Which could be translated as « Main Heart »

Emmanuelle Chiappone-Piriou
  • Opening Saturday, July 1, 2017 at 6 PM
Escougnou-Cetraro Gallery Gallery
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Other times by appointment

The artist