Fetishism. From distorted religious iconography to supermarket photography, Thomas Devaux’s work is haunted by the fetishist question (such as body, body image seen as a masterpiece or merchandise). As he operates a historical transfer by conveying religious feelings into our consumer’s society, his portraits equate the metaphysical with the vulgar, the transcendent with the immanent. In so doing, characters and situations normally viewed as spiritual are made corporeal. Reliquaries radicalize this approach. Striding through fare exhibits and shows – duct tape on the soles of his shoes – he collects the visitors’ organic and personal fabrics (those of collectors and art professionals) framing them in variegated reliquaries, emptied of their original content. This canned intimacy acts as a sublimating distancing through which, hair acquires nearly supernatural aura, solemnity and preciousness. Playing with the ritual object’s performative function, Thomas Devaux ironically highlights an anonymous jewellery collector’s body transforming it to better ridicule it, into a gem, as kitsch as it is austere. Symbolically reselling a body piece from a collector to another, Devaux short-circuits the art circle’s market while perverting its libidinal investment processes, common to art, religion and sexuality. By staging the desire for art as much as art’s desire, he consequently diverts the strength of fetishism’s processes, carefully criticizing its artifice and superficiality.
Florian Gaité, Art Critic (Artpress, France Culture...)