Xavier Michel

Born in 1990, lives and works between Rouen and Paris.

Inviting Xavier Michel for a residency represents a certain risk. He's one of those do-it-yourself artists who can't go anywhere without their arsenal of objects, tools, crates and trunks of stuff (1). To put it crudely, Xavier Michel transforms the spaces he inhabits with his work into a sweet, messy capharnaüm - something between workshop and laboratory, in which he acts as a mad inventor, or as a lover of serendipity who experiments and tests, fails, tries again, fails better (2). Driven by an irresistible need to understand how things work, he dismantles and reassembles them, reproduces or makes them himself, modifies them, arranges them, makes them resonate in concert. Everything holds together in a precarious, fragile balance, maintained and activated by the artist's hands and body, string games and juggling tricks. He creates ingenious systems in which everything is linked by a joyful interdependence, and in which he too seems to be seeking his place also. His gestures and sensibility borrow from the burlesque spectacle, in which he plays the role of a romantic Buster Keaton, eternally confronted with the risk of catastrophe. Like a prestidigitator in training, he creates magical illusions in which he always ends up irretrievably naked (3), a melancholy portrait of the artist as saltimbanco (4).

(1) See the concept of bricolage developed by Claude Lévi-Strauss in La pensée sauvage, 1962.
(2) After Samuel Beckett, in Cap au pire, 1983.
(3) Xavier Michel, Rap à poil, 2023.
(4) Jean Starobinski, Portrait de l’artiste en saltimbanque, 1970.


01.03.24 – 30.04.24

Barcelona cross residency,
in Barcelona
in partnership with Homesession