The façade of the Frac, built by the Lacaton & Vassal architectural agency, is the site of a semi-permanent work by the British artist Scott King, eight of whose works can be found in the Frac Nord-Pas de Calais collection. This work consists in a phrase in pink neon: ‘Art is merely proof of a life lived to the fullest’. The author of this phrase is none other than Stiv Bators, founding member of and singer with the punk band the Dead Boys from 1975 to 1979. Born in Ohio and exerting an influence on the New York punk scene, Bators might have had a major impact on the compositions of other groups, such as the Sex Pistols or Joy Division, if he had not been a part of little-known groups. In an attempt to find a larger audience and to shake his addiction to heroin, in the early 1990s Bators moved to Paris, a city he saw as offering a new beginning, the start of a better future. There, however, he was run over by a taxi, bringing is life to an end. On the one hand, this neon phrase conveys the romantic nature of this singer, to whom it was falsely attributed. On the other hand, it calls up the impression made on Scott King as a child by the illuminated signs at the entrances to European train stations, such as those in Paris, Amsterdam and Geneva. With this made-up tribute, King also reveals the potential of firm belief in the powers of art.
This neon phrase calls out to viewers, attracting their attention and helping identify the new venue while at the same time creating a memorial effect. It is no longer a matter of the Frac alone but of the building on which this precise expression is written, giving the cathedral’s twin its own identity.
L’art est simplement la preuve d’une vie pleinement vécue recalls the work Provisoire & Définitif (1996) by Maurizio Nannucci. This work was commissioned by Frac Nord-Pas de Calais on the occasion of its establishment in Dunkirk, on Rosendaël Avenue, and was installed on the roof of the former hospital’s pavilion in September 1996.
Scott King was born in 1969 in Goole, UK, and works at the boundary of art, design, advertising, semiotics and popular culture.
He appropriates the languages of business, visual communication and even bureaucracy to create works with a psychological, sociological and political imprint. King’s work has been shown at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, at Kunst Werke (KW) in Berlin and at White Columns and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. As the creator of the Frac’s visual identity through the introduction of a new logo in 2009, King also designed the signed of the new building. This signage, conceived as an artistic intervention, can be found both inside and outside the building, giving the FRAC/AP2 a striking and complete visual identity. The choice of French words and expressions is in keeping with Scott King’s strong desire to have the signage rooted in the geographical region by using terms proper to the land and culture in which he works, preferring complete terms, sometimes in all their complexity, to abbreviations. For several years he has been working with real or fabricated quotations associated with their authors. He currently lives and works in London, England.