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The artist/bodybuilder cut out photographs of his own body, bought superb butterflies from entomologists, and made wings from the instructions for doping drugs: a playful exercise, though one that is not devoid of melancholy beneath its quirky surface. Here and there, the bodybuilder’s bulky trainers seem to anchor him to the ground, hindering his flight, while metal pins fix his muscular body to the suddenly claustrophobic interior of a box.
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47 photographies aux coleur et en n/b
And there is more: the butterfly wings adorning his shoulders bear sinister names that are far from poetic and butterfly-like—H ydergine, Dynabolon, Lévothyrox, Clérégil, Kinoselem, Trophobolène—once again reminding us that the most aggressive, harmful drugs course through the bodybuilder’s veins, and that they are least likely to bestow upon him the graceful flight of even the lowliest butterfly.
A world of suffering when compared to ‘normal’ life, bodybuilding is constantly underpinned by a dialectic of opposites that Martial Cherrier confronts and experiences in his own flesh: effort/pleasure, food/drugs, pumping up/drying out, cheating/honesty, purity/exhibitionism. But most of all, it involves those terrible twins, pleasure and pain. The young Martial (he made this military-sounding forename into his logo), the dark outline of his defined, muscular body holding the shutter release of the camera that would be at his side every day of his new life, broke away from his past: he left the provinces and his father, gave up his apprenticeship as a pastry chef, and went to the United States on a journey of self-discovery.
Martial Cherrier, artist and Bodybuilding Champion of France in 1997. His powerful photographic and video work reflects on his career as a professional bodybuilder and the notion of the body within contemporary society, resulting in an uncensored art that blends with his life.