Pierre et Gilles are the protagonists of the exhibition La fabrique des idoles hosted at the Museum of Music of the Philharmonie de Paris, where visitors can walk into teenager’s room, an Hindu temple and a Paris club in full swing in the ‘80s while passing by a votive niche in a Naples alley, all among strobe lights, glitters, faces, colors, and exaggerated kitsch.
Kitsch of an absolute aesthetic quality. A shining and at the same time melancholy path, composed of 110 photo-paintings, 25 album covers, 200 memorabilia, 6 video clips and around 140 music tracks free for listening from the audio guides.
Over the last forty years, Pierre et Gilles, two soulmates that met in 1976 “at a party”, as they love to recount, have been able to present a hybrid art, a blend of painting and photography, reality and wonder, dream and nightmare, where portraits take central stage. Unknown people, universal stars, underground groups and various singers offered to be “reinterpreted” in sacrilegious (and sometimes blaspheme), imaginative, colorful or rather dark versions, in the construction of what they themselves call a “an iconoclast, sentimental pantheon”.
The artists who posed for the duo included, for example, Madonna, Marylin Manson, Boy George, Stromae, Kylie Minogue, Dita Von Teese and Michael Jackson. Every model was asked to pose in complex scenes set up in studio. The pictures later underwent a long, elaborated pictorial process that ended with the creation of a frame for the painting.
The exhibition is also the opportunity to tell a story, or actually multiple stories, thus exploring Pierre et Gilles’ relationship with music and the whole universe that gravitates around it. The artists created a playlist to go with every portrait, to evoke the memories and emotions associated with its creation in visitors. They are invited to enjoy and draw energy from this fantastic universe, as well as to plunge into the ambience that was at the origin of what may be considered as an idol in contemporary times.
The fourth section of the exhibition path is entirely taken by the so-called “altar of music”, something really similar to a votive niche dedicated to the Vergin and the Saints, but also to Maradona, with altars that can be very frequently seen in the alleys of Naples. Sacred and profane. In the middle of the set-up, a small screen projects the musical videos that the duo filmed in the ‘80s. A triumph of that “politically incorrect” that only that decade could produce, with no need for half measures.
La fabrique des idoles, the “factory of idols”, is a powerhouse of excess, or excesses, frills and sequins, but mostly an occasion to reflect on how human beings of any time and place tend to represent something considered as sacred, or profane, as long as it is perceived as unique and special. An opportunity to analyze the human psychology and a way to picture and imagine the exceptional.