Untel — La boîte Untel (archives 1975-1980)


Urban art, installation, performance, photography...

La boîte Untel (archives 1975-1980)

Past: May 24 → August 16, 2013

Happenings and joyful provocation are words that would quickly summarize UNTEL’s actions. But what does this anonymous appellation refer to? — UNTEL is a French word that can’t be translated into English, it means something like “unnamed, unidentified”. Who are those people that can’t be named?

UNTEL is a group of artists consisting originally of three French artists, Jean-Paul Albinet, Philippe Cazal and Alain Snyers. Wilfrid Rouff replaces Alain Snyers when he leaves the group in 1978. During its short but passionate existence, from 1975 to 1980, the group has led numerous actions in the public space. The common denominator of the group’s actions is the examination of the day-to-day life, a social and political questioning, very close to the revolutionary ideas of May 1968 and situationism.

Today, now that almost forty years have passed since their first projects, UNTEL’s action still seems extremely contemporary and very relevant considering what the three fellows smilingly exposed about the present reality.

In close collaboration with UNTEL (Albinet, Cazal, Syners), mfc-michèle didier publishes today LA BOÎTE UNTEL, a new edition limited to 24 copies. LA BOÎTE UNTEL compiles a series of testimonies of the group’s actions led in the second half of the seventies, providing a coherent collection of objects and documents. Carefully collected in the box, there are: index cards, historical articles and critic’s reviews, flyers, the famous inkpad “PLUS RIEN A VENDRE TOUT A ECHANGER“ (Nothing for sale any more, everything for trade), or the ironic “touriste“ badge, one of their favorite accessories. We can also find the soundtrack of the environment Vie Quotidienne (Everyday life), presented for the first time in 1977 at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and today exhibited in the rooms dedicated to contemporary art of the Musée d’Art modern et contemporain de Strasbourg; but also several videos testifying to a selection of the most striking interventions they made in the urban area, like the performance of Le déjeuner sur l’herbe in 1975. The last element that hasn’t been mentioned until now is the paperweight that is produced exceptionally without an original prototype, unlike the other objects and documents of LA BOÎTE UNTEL. This object refers to a marble memorial that Untel placed in Le Jardin des poètes in Paris in May 1981, in order to signify the end of their activity. “UNTEL et pas d’autres“ (literally: UNTEL and no other) was carved in it. It is the lost witness of the end of UNTEL’s adventures, one of the rare undocumented actions of the group. But thanks to very strong memories, it was possible to reproduce it.

It will be deployed in the whole space of the gallery during the exhibition of LA BOÎTE UNTEL. Just the same way as every action led by the group, LA BOÎTE UNTEL comes to life every day of the exhibition.

This exhibition is also the occasion to show two historical installations by the group: La ville 365 jours par an, 1976 and Faits divers, 1979. The work La ville 365 jours par an (The city 365 days per year) consists of 56 ordinary urban photographs installed like in a patchwork, creating an impressive ensemble, associated with a text. Faits divers (literally: Trivia) gathers 44 photographs of the group’s interventions, creating a iconographic memory of UNTEL’s work. Each photograph reveals a note saying “Fait divers“ and the title and the date of the action. Through this work, UNTEL tells its own story. UNTEL documents its own artistic activity and applies to himself the recurring modus operandi of their work: documenting, archiving, and describing the everyday experiences. The propinquity of UNTEL’s creation process with this idea of experience has led Ben Vautier to included UNTEL in the program of La Maison du Doute in Blois, France, in the spring of 2013. This way, he historically designated UNTEL as post-Fluxus.

The idea of an art that first and foremost has to be experienced and lived, seems indeed in line with UNTEL’s considerations.

  • Opening Thursday, May 23, 2013 6 PM → 9 PM
03 Le Marais Zoom in 03 Le Marais Zoom out

66, rue Notre-Dame de Nazareth

75003 Paris

T. 01 71 27 34 41


Arts et Métiers
Strasbourg Saint-Denis

Opening hours

Thursday – Saturday, noon – 7 PM
Other times by appointment

The artists

  • Philippe Cazal
  • Jean Paul Albinet
  • Alain Snyers
  • Untel