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Why motorbikes?

Nothing could be simpler or more complex at the same time. Everything is stated, obvious, with motorbikes – from speed to death, love to war or indeed from the technical aspect to the aesthetic. Moreover, motorbikes are a way of life. If ‘art is what artists do’, then motorbikes are probably ‘what bikers do’. As a result, Motopoétique is not an exhibition of motorbikes. Motopoétique is an art exhibition.

The mythic, cultural and ritualistic aspects of motorbikes have fascinated many artists. But for an art exhibition whose referent is (also) the biker’s motorcycle, his bike, the machine between his legs and the eagle on his back, one needs to combine two qualities, or rather two approaches, i.e., the history of art and the history of motorbikes.

Unusually, Paul Ardenne is an expert on both. Together, we agreed to put the emphasis on the art works first and foremost. But we also chose not to exclude the cult-like aspect of the universe of biking and bikers. Therefore this is why – in addition to the art works – we can discover biker culture in the form of filmed interviews. In this exhibition, motorbike culture is recounted by an art historian, or rather as Paul Ardenne chooses to depict it.

Motopoétique came from an idea by curator Paul Ardenne. For this exhibition, he worked in collaboration with Barbara Polla, associate curator, and the museum's curatorial team on the production and scenography.

The exhibition is a tribute to bikers, whose art is what makes life less monotonous, even if it contains an element of risk. Finally, it is a tribute to art which makes life so compelling.

Thierry Raspail


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