Dessins de Poussière – Tracing / Site / Construction

“Making your mark” refers to leaving one’s trace on a place or in a situation, both physically at metaphorically. We extend our presence in spaces through the objects we produce and the buildings we erect, but also through the interactions we participate in and in the relationships we create. The construction site is at once a place of production and a social beehive, full of life.

The artwork, Dessins de Poussière – Traces du Chantier (Tracing / Site / Construction, 2013-4) commemorated the investment, the presence and the contributions of blue-collar workers to the Musée de l’Homme (Museum of Mankind) in Paris. It also reflected on the relationship between individuals past and present and an institution that seeks to represent all of humanity up to the present day. My interventions were part of a larger series of site specific works, Art in Situ, including art by Alain Cardenas, Jean Denant, Sylvain Sorgato, Diana Quinby, and Martine Vallée curated by Alain Cardenas.


The idea of making ephemeral drawings using dust came to me after an initial visit to the construction site. At that time, I noticed a thin layer of dust that covers the floor of the work spaces. This dust is a mix of leftovers from new materials (masons and laborers cut and sand new interior wall partitions and fixtures) and crumbled-up parts of iconic old interiors spaces – bits of stone, concrete, and plaster that are over a hundred years old! Working with dust implies working with the residue of human activity over time.

The actual images were created from the outlines of the anonymous hands of over 30 constructions workers who agreed to participate in the project. These tracings were used as the basis for vinyl stencils that I used to cover the walls with spray glue, allowing the construction dust-as-drawing-medium to accumulate over time.

Photos (c) Jean-Christophe Domenech

These modern street art interventions within the museum echo the blown-pigment based handprints common to prehistoric cave art around the world (such as the Cuevas de las Manos archeological site, near the present-day Pinturas River in Argentina). My installation created a link between the people who created those images, for unknown purposes, and the men working on the site of the current museum.

Using stencils and spray adhesive, I make multiple interventions in the museum; wall drawings that appeared progressively, over time, through the accumulation of dust on various surfaces. These images evolved in harmony with the rhythms of the construction site; depending on the amount of dust in a given area, they appeared and disappeared at various speeds.

More information on the other works commissioned for the project, site visits, and press can be found on the Science and Contemporary Art Blog.

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