Item Idem and the Art of Fusion

Published August 22, 2012

ABOVE: ITEM IDEM AT MILK STUDIOS. PHOTO COURTESY OF BILLY FARRELL AGENCY.

“I like the idea of designing something that is very Frankenstein and morbid, a cultural and social aberration, a slightly disturbing, evil entity,” says the Parisian born, New York-based artist Cyril Duval, who works under the alter ego Item Idem, which, translated from Latin, means “the same.” Last night at MILK Studios, Item Idem unveiled his latest work, Felon, in the group exhibition presented by Ford, “Wall to Wall: The Fusion Collective,” alongside artists Brian DeGraw, Nathaniel Brown, Matthew Williams and WIFE.

“Just because it’s an art show doesn’t mean it can’t be a dance party,” said one of the curators, Georgie Grenville. Grenville and her co-curator Geremy Jasper, best known for their kaleidoscopic light extravaganza at The Standard Hotel and directing Florence + The Machine’s Dog Days Are Over music video, hand-picked five artists whose work reflect the concept of “Fusion”—the blending of sculpture, painting, music, and theatrics.

In keeping with this theme, Felon was a central fixture in the night. Like a pulsating monster, it served as a DJ booth on wheels, conjuring up a psychedelic alternate reality. Fantasy or not, Felon is functional. “For me it’s really important to activate the piece,” Idem told Interview. “There’s an art theory from the ’90s called Relational Aesthetics. I grew up influenced by that and to me it’s still very relevant. So as much as I can, I try to go into 3D works where there’s audience participation. I like the dynamics that are created, cultural, and playful, anything that helps the questioning. I also like very loud visual elements and tiny, minor, discrete details,” he continued.

Felon is at once aggressive and playful. McDonalds logos line the flags that spike out of the cart’s rear, as well as American flag designs on the beach umbrella that pokes out of the center of the machine.

Idem is careful to point out that these emblems of Americana are not necessarily a political or social commentary: “It goes beyond the simple idea of mass marketing, or commenting on the world going wrong, or people getting fatter,” he says.
“It’s not about that. I think it is super efficient branding,”

Item Idem is launching the Shanzhai Biennale, a fake art biennale, with fellow artist Babak Radboy, at Beijing design week in September. Shanzhai, which means “house of bandits,” will take a humorous approach to counterfeit culture in China, where Coco Chanel will be Coco Camel.

“Wall to Wall” moves to Los Angeles on Aug. 29 and the finished works of art will be showcased to the public on http://fusionists.co/