exhibition, Paris, photography

Seydou Keïta, Fascination & Ambiguity

1 Seydou Keïta, à gauche ST, 1956

Seydou Keïta, Untitled, 1956-1957 (printed 1997), 120x180cm [left]; Untitled, 1958 (printed 1997), 120x180cm [right]

Seydou Keïta’s work (on view at the Grand Palais, March 31 – July 11, 2016), one of the great African photographers, is both fascinating and ambiguous. Fascinating because Keïta’s undeniable talent as a portraitist bestows unparalleled dignity and beauty on his models. He is one of the first to go beyond semi-ethnographic portraits of stereotyped Africans, standing stiffly with their official insignia (whether they were dignitaries or constables – the one pictured above is the latter), and neither inclined nor allowed to demonstrate any sign of individuality. Keïta pushes back against this Eurocentric and colonial gaze, and goes beyond it in letting his models’ personality shine through, in seeing them as human beings in their own right, with their styles, personalities, emotions, with their grace or their pride – like this young woman featured on the exhibition poster (pictured above, left). The contrast between the two portraits displayed side by side is a good indication of the radical change Keïta heralds, an upheaval in the way we look at African men and women. Continue reading

contemporary art, installation, Paris

The Outside & the Inside: Eva Jospin at the Louvre

1 Eva Jospin, Panorama

Eva Jospin, Panorama

The initial shock of Eva Jospin’s installation in the Louvre’s Cour Carrée (April 12 – August 28, 2016) comes from its display. To discover its high reliefs, the visitor has to pass through several consecutive concentric enclosures to reach the center. First, the classical buildings of the Cour Carrée; next, a circular basin made of stone containing stagnant greenish water; then, set in this basin, a decagonal pavilion reflecting the Louvre facade on its walls – echo and mirror. (The glass Pyramid is not visible because of the obtuse angle towards it; obfuscating the Pyramid – another “grafted” structure – is definitely not fortuitous.) Continue reading

exhibition, Sao Paulo

Desecrating the Museum

1 MASP, vue d'ensemble

Overview of the MASP

Desecrating versus consecrating. A museum where artworks are not exhibited as distant, inaccessible icons, radiating such an aura that they are not supposed to be enjoyed by visitors, but merely revered in silence, according to guidelines that weere predetermined by those who know, understand, administrate, curate, and who have nothing but contempt for the unlearned visitor, barely worthy of seeing the art from up close. A museum that is not a temple, far from the elitist tradition that imposes its rule in France and elsewhere –the prerogative of narrow-minded conservators and so-called defenders of cultural heritage that are allergic to any kind of modernity, of democratization (it is no surprise that the catalogue mentions how Michel Laclotte, then director of the Louvre, hated the museum; although I don’t know what to think of the fact that Elizabeth II liked it a lot). Continue reading