exhibition, Paris, photography

Eli Lotar, Beyond the Slaughterhouses

1 Eli Lotar, Aux Abattoirs de La Villette, 1929, coll-

Eli Lotar, Aux Abattoirs de La Villette [At La Villette’s Slaughterhouses], 1929, coll. Metropolitan Museum, NYC

For most people, the name Eli Lotar [.pdf] first evokes images like this photo of calves’ feet (and a close-up shot of the same subject), shot at La Villette’s slaughterhouses [.pdf] in 1929. The reason behind this probably is the true documental dimension of his reportage, plus its Surrealist-inflected execution: in one of the pictures, it is Pierre Prévert, the poet’s brother, who is looking at a pile of offal on the ground, the series being commissioned by Documents, George Bataille’s journal, to illustrate the entry “Slaughterhouse” in the “Dictionary” section.

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contemporary art, exhibition, installation, Paris

Falling Asleep at the Museum? (Ali Cherri)

Ali Cherri, Somniculus, 2017

Ali Cherri, Somniculus, 2017

Museums, as objects, are here to tell us about an elsewhere that we don’t know, in order to educate us and provide us with rational, learned, Cartesian discourses —especially ethnographic, archeological and natural history museums. Of course, this is set in a model that structures our society and outlook. The same artifacts won’t relay the same discourse whether they are displayed in a “cabinet of curiosities,” a colonial museum, an antiques shop, a flea market or the Quai Branly museum. Our ideology in showing and exhibiting imposes itself on the artifact and our gaze has to conform to it. Sure, we can choose to be docile, because we are respectful, conformist, and learning; or we can choose to be skeptical and reluctant when faced with, for example, the national narrative of Napoleon III’s Second Empire, the racialist phrenology of colonial exhibitions, or falsified colonizing archeology in Moshe Dayan’s style. However, we always remain within this rational logic, consuming meaning and context.

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exhibition, painting, Paris

Rehashed Cold Buffet

1 Signature de Bernard Buffet

First, astonishment seizes you: what? a Bernard Buffet exhibition (at the MAMVP, October 14, 2016 – March 5, 2017)? Then, doubt unfurls: maybe I’ve let something slip by me? Am I missing out on some revelation because of my prejudices?
After having seen the exhibition, it’s nothing but consternation: how could they dare to make such an unconvincing show? Or is it that rehabilitating Buffet amounted to an impossible task? And if so, why put together this exhibition? To please Pierre Bergé, the ex-boyfriend, who owns a fair amount of the paintings on display (his portrait pictured last)? I cannot think so. This is not a rediscovery or rehabilitation, this is a “rebranding” —on the walls of the exhibition, a quote from Bergé: “[Buffet’s] prickly signature has become a brand name.” Is this actually the context in which we should apprehend this promotional relaunch?

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exhibition, painting, Paris

The Man of the Crowd (Philippe Cognée)

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Philippe Cognée, Solar crowd, 2016, 150x150cm

Greyish, blueish, reddish canvases with muted hues: these are crowds, so we’re told. No border, no frame, what we see is only a fragment of an immensity that we assume stretches left and right, up and down, infinitely expanding, maybe, like photos of clouds. These are crowds of people, individuals lost in the mass, barely discernable. Each person moves, goes forward, makes a gesture; the whole thing is like an idiorhythmy, a community where everyone blends but no one disappears.

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exhibition, installation, Paris, poetry, sculpture

Of Museums as Freezers (Carl Andre)

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Carl Andre, poem, 1982

The Carl Andre exhibition at the MAMVP (October 18, 2016 – February 12, 2017) is a very good retrospective, ranging from his –large-scale or miniature– sculptures to his visual poems (lesser-known works, albeit their formal beauty is truly captivating, beyond meaningfulness). But something is arresting: the gap, probably an unbridgeable one, between the artist’s original intentions and the way his artworks are displayed in museums.

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exhibition, Paris, photography

The Leica-Wielding Dancer (Henri Cartier-Bresson)

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Granted, the exhibition “Images à la Sauvette” at the Fondation Cartier-Bresson (January 11 – April 23, 2017) is a great opportunity to see most of the photographs published in the eponymous –and mythical– album, be it for the first time or once again. Undoubtedly, it will be an interesting discovery for neophytes, and a refresh of pleasant memories for long-time amateurs of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work. But it seemed there were no surprises, nothing original, until I happened on a short 1’40’’ film, shown in a nook, in which we can see the Frenchman at work (although he apparently hated being photographed of filmed), caught in action by the American photographer Gjon Mili. The scene takes place during the celebrations for the Chinese New Year in New York, in 1959: paper dragons, firecrackers, a crowd… nothing extraordinary, just partying. But in the midst of this crowd, we see a man dancing, jumping, bouncing around in whirls and zigzags, gently elbowing his way, taking a step back, two steps aside, three steps forward, ready for anything.

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event, exhibition, Paris, photography

Luminescent Specters (Paolo Gioli)

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Paolo Gioli, Luminescenti, 2010, polaroid, 20x25cm

Two series of photographs by Paolo Gioli are currently on show at SAGE Paris gallery, until November 6, including these images of ancient sculptures, bathed in a green light that gives them an eerie presence.

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Paolo Gioli, Luminescenti, exhibition view, François Sage Gallery

This wall of photographs will be on display at Paris Photo; to find out more about them, you can read the little book in which I wrote on those series – I will sign it at the gallery’s booth (C30) during the fair, Saturday, November 12, 3pm. Come!

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