Are the mini and smallness a portent of crisis, or a reflection, a consequence thereof? Might they also be an effective and off-kilter response to THE crisis? With the exhibition BigMinis, the CAPC's idea is to explore the special fascination wielded by the “scaled-down” object in a period of recession. While miniaturization may conjure up lower costs, less time, and less space, the production of the mini is, for its part, strategic. The mini resists reduction and scaling-down. It exists because of its small size. A cheeky smallness which reveals, in the current economic and cultural context, some of the capitalist pathologies in which the mini originates, and to which it responds. Is the mini a regulatory object?
The exhibition BigMinis brings together works by some 50 contemporary artists, on loan from public collections in France and abroad, private foundations and collections, galleries, and the artists themselves. The idea, which originates in the present-day economic state of affairs, unfolds against a backdrop of recession, and questions, in particular, the notion of “fetishes of crisis.”
It is wrongly thought that in the mini, everything is proportionately scaled down: so the same might apply to the idea behind it, and its impact. Experience shows the opposite, however. The mini endures and marks. It apparently even withstands crisis. This exhibition is conceived with this in mind. In order to make the idea dialectical and spicy, large works informed by mini-ideas are also on view, thus indicating that the impact of an idea conveyed by an object is not proportionate to the latter’s size. Otherwise put, the large works are far from having a monopoly on “big” ideas and small ideas are not necessarily proportionate to the size of the objects conveying them.
Bearing in mind the maximalist proportions of the CAPC, to which the exhibition makes a partial response, an arrangement had to be invented, with the bigminis not really being exhibited as standards. The new formula gallery on the museum’s ground floor will look like a mental playground. And it will sometimes be necessary to look for the works amid a forest of stands with a post-Tetris look about them. The minis are not aware of the canons of the day and age. One-off mini-artworks, if they may be so pigeonholed, are as if driven by life. It does not matter much if they are beautiful or ugly. Their dimensions and materials, as well as their technical and conceptual prowess makes them enviable and engaging, and stimulating for eye and mind alike. They surprise and impose themselves. Nothing can be taken away from them. Their impact goes so far as to arouse the kleptomania dormant in us.
Unlike the “king size,” the mini must be seen up close. It presupposes a focus, whence the grip it has on the sphere of desire. At the same time, the small reates the void around it, because in order to be seen, it needs more space. It thus takes up more room than its size might have us suppose, whence its capacity to become a fetish. Its relationship with the environment (the city for cars, the exhibition venue for art objects, the pocket for tamagotchis…) and with us thus becomes political. After incarnating the object boom of the industrialized countries, when the shortening of skirts and compating of vehicles had taken on the dimension of a social phenomenon, creating the vogue for the word “mini” in theWest, the compact object is gauged today by the yardstick of the cute (symptomatic, superfluous, polished object), the disquieting (fetichized, serial, cult object) and the resistant (individualistic, Pear to Pear, critical object). We hate to love it and we love to hate it. We want it in secret and without ever having seen it enough. The contemporary mini has sex appeal.