Invader is known for creating art inspired by the pixelated designs of ‘80s video games, which he recreates in cities across the globe – often using mosaic tiles. Earlier this week, his latest ‘invasion’ emerged in the French port city of Marseille: a permanent installation of more than 80 of his distinct tiled mosaics, which comes nine months after his previous invasion in Djerba, Tunisia. The artist spent his summer placing the works in Marseille’s Old Harbour neighbourhoods, the bays of the nearby calanques and even the Prison des Baumettes as part of his latest exhibition, Invader Was Here – a tribute to the city and its Mediterranean culture.
The show is the latest project for the MAMO arts centre whose annual summer commission has given artists such as Daniel Buren, Dan Graham, and Alex Israel, among others, carte-blanche to work around Marseille. MAMO hosts the artists at the converted gymnasium on top of Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse, Invader utilised the space as a strategic secret studio to develop his site-specific installations. Each mosaic directs viewers towards MAMO where Invader’s studio is now on public view with an abundance of maps, drawings, tools, masks and costumes truly demonstrating ‘Invader was here’.
Installing over 80 mosaics in a crowded city in the middle of summer highlights Invader’s ability to work surreptitiously. The instantly recognisable artworks have been placed within a photogenic, urban framework, bringing new life to the city’s architecture. With over 700,000 followers on Instagram, Invader has a dedicated following, with many of his fans using his ‘Flashinvaders’ app to capture and share images of his works worldwide.
Along with his signature Space invaders, many of the mosaics highlight regional themes as well as icons from popular culture including the football player Zinedine Zidane, and the 20th century singer and actor Fernandel.
Each mosaic is unique in terms of colour, composition and size – all designed and influenced by the spirit and culture of Marseille. The pixelated mosaics are an ode to the seaside town, decorated in shades of blues and contrasted with white. As well as his app, a dedicated “Invasion Map” also makes it possible to follow the artist's footsteps in town, and to visualise the extent of the intervention.