Michel François: Pieces of evidence, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

Michel François is renowned for being a conceptual artist in the fields of sculpture, film, paintings, print and photography. His work illustrates the artist’s conviction that the meaning of art is determined through its combination with others in relation to an exhibition space. This exhibition, which will be running from 30 April until 22 June 2014, will be integrated throughout the whole Ikon Gallery.

The title, Pieces of evidence, refers to François’s fascination with the underworld, drawing comparisons between the ingenuity of artists and criminals. The piece Stumbling Block II (Wall) (1989), is a large block of polystyrene secured to the wall with strips of brown tape, a sculptural translation of a convicted smugglers failed attempt to conceal drugs by strapping them across their body. The idea of crossing boarders – illegally or otherwise – is conveyed in Arpenteuse (1994), a video of an inchworm walking across a map of the world. This creature represents the artist’s free spirit with respect to art as much as his geographical system, a kind of energy that spurs us on to keep looking for inspiration.

In contrast, Golden Cage 1 (2008-9) problematises the notion of frontiers, with a large free standing steel box being used to symbolise human migration across the Mexican/US border. The box has A4 sized sections haphazrdly cut out of it, so it can barely stand. This is the artist’s interpretation of the hollow dreams of finding a better place, the cage being desired in a way that its contents are not.

For more information head to www.ikon-gallery.org.

1. Michel Francois, A Jump in Cuba, 1996, Courtesy the artist and Ikon Gallery.