If he presents himself as an artist-entrepreneur having appropriated since 1991, then having bought it from the INPI, the sign "Ouest-Lumière" - the name of a former electricity company - of which he was appointed President for life, Yann Toma develops a whole activity which takes the most diverse forms and whose key words are energy, flow, light and commitment. Teaching at the University of Paris 1, he has created a research observatory called "Art & Flux", both theoretical and critical, of experimentation and production, which applies to account for the relations between art, economy and politics.
In this quality of investigation, Yann Toma sits since 2007 within the United Nations Organization as an observer-artist, having as such offices at the very location of the headquarters of the international organization in New York. Invited to all the general assemblies, the security council and other meetings organized by the U.N., he follows the interventions in the manner of a legal chronicler, sketching the heads of state and other political figures who parade there as well as the members of civil society who make a communication there.
Back at the studio, Yann Toma - who has access to a dedicated audiovisual site that retranscribes all the speeches of the latter - listens to them again, noting their strongest words while drawing their portrait with charcoal on paper, writing their name, their function, the day of their intervention and some of their key words in capital letters. In this way, he has created a whole gallery of personalities - for example, the 150 heads of state who attended the 69th General Assembly in September 2014 - with a singular force of expression, which he refers to as Statementset, a generic term that plays on the characteristic features of his models because they were captured on the spot and retranscribed afterwards during the re-visioning. While balancing between reality and memory, the portraits of Yann Toma do not fail to translate a presence, especially since the words that adorn them give them not only a plastic resonance but the sound of a committed voice.
Oeuf diplomatique, UN’s HOMELET, Yann Toma, sculpture, mixed technique, 2013. ©Ouest-Lumière
Yann Toma, 69th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (New York, 24-30 September 2014), fusain aquarelle 45,7x60,9cm, 2014
Yann Toma - The Artist-Observer at the UN from Yann Toma on Vimeo.