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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contemporary art, exhibition, installation

Unveiling Inhotim (3/3)

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William Kentridge, “I am not me, the horse is not mine”, 2008

In Inhotim, I still had artworks to see, the more classical ones maybe or, in any case, those whose scenography felt less pompous. First, a superb polyptych by William Kentridge on eight screens, addressing the end of Constructivism, stifled by Stalin. Except for one screen devoted to text (the 1937 Central Committee’s deliberation expelling Bukharin from the party), Kentridge’s tried-and-true style is on display here. But what is featured? Nicolas Gogol’s nose – that other characters sometimes use as a mask –, a horse (“I am not me, the horse is not mine”), a Monument to the Third International that was never completed… And a dancing Red Army soldier, but only his shadow is visible – everything is an illusion. It would have been nice also to be able to watch the performance/speech [pdf] Kentridge gave to complement the installation.

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contemporary art, exhibition, installation

Inhotim (2/3): Of Air & Darkness

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Tunga, view of the psychoactive pavilion

I don’t know if Tunga –who was apparently at the inception of Inhotim, having advised Bernardo Paz to create a museum– is “the best” artist here, and this kind of rankings are never very interesting: nevertheless, I felt that his two pavilions stand above the rest. The main one is a large structure, open on the forest, with a dozen oversized red hammocks connecting the building with the trees. In a central vault, one of Tunga’s films is on view; everything else is bathed by daylight, animated by a soft breeze, or entertained by a few raindrops. The superb installation that I saw at the Louvre eleven years ago is here, staging a confrontation of two worlds, accompanied by several works inspired by organic fluids (sometimes reminiscent of Chen Zhen’s artworks), such as Frascos expandidos from 2009 (featured below). Continue reading

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contemporary art, installation

Inhotim (1/3): Utopia VS Reality

Cildo Meireles, Desvio para o vermelho: Impregnação & Entorno, 1967-1984

Cildo Meireles, Desvio para o vermelho: Impregnação & Entorno, 1967-1984

Suddenly, the asphalt feels softer under the wheels, the road seems much better, and the annoying lombadas have disappeared (“speed bumps” in Brazilian Portuguese). Suddenly, there are no more half-built, half-derelict houses, no more chaotic city plans and anarchic urban design, no more posters for fortune tellers or Evangelical churches, no more kids running everywhere. Suddenly –once you pass the armed guards at the entrance–, you find yourself in another Brazil, without chaos, poverty, disorder or corruption (well, almost). Like in Baudelaire’s poem, in this rich, calm, serene Brazil –the opposite of the actual Brazil, of everyday Brazil–, it is nothing but “ordre et beauté, luxe, calme et volupté.” Welcome to Inhotim! First and foremost a huge garden of 2000ha in the middle of Brazil (the French daily Libération titled its reviewCollection d’hectares contemporains”, a play on “art contemporain”), Inhotim is the largest open-air museum of the American continent, if not the world, with several buildings harboring artworks and plenty of outdoor sculptures and installations. It is also the realization of Bernardo Paz’s megalomaniac dream; the infamous self-taught straight-talking businessman, who earned his fortune through the intensive exploitation of the region’s mines, has declared, however: “I have no passion for art, but I love gardens,” and “I do not understand art, I do not understand Picasso.”

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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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contemporary art, exhibition, photography

Revisiting the History of Photography (2 – Élysée)

Israel Arino, The Century-Old Children, 2013, ambrotype on a wet plate, 50x50cm

Israel Arino, The Century-Old Children, 2013, ambrotype on a wet plate, 50x50cm

The current MAMVP exhibition, curated by Jan Dibbets, is based on the artist’s idiosyncratic conception of photography; alternatively, “The Memory of the Future”, presented at the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne (May 25 – August 28, 2016) and curated by its new director, Tatyana Franck, grew out of a meticulous study of the museum’s artistic and technical collections. This difference in perspective can be read in the exhibitions’ titles: Dibbets’ “Pandora’s Box” is poetic and allusive, Franck’s “Memory of the Future” is more formal and, at the same time, paradoxical.
The latter is situated in the Musée de l’Élysée’s beautiful villa, which the institution will leave in a few years for a new and bold building designed by an extraordinary Portuguese agency, near Lausanne’s train station (cue the inveterate Parisian reactionary lamenters spewing their usual venom on the shores of Lake Geneva). With this move, the institution will be joining a new cultural platform (named only days before its inauguration).
“The Memory of the Future” starts off by revisiting ancient image-making techniques, creating a dialogue between vintage photographs unearthed from the reserves and artworks by contemporary artists exploring these techniques today. Contrary to Dibbets’ exhibition in Paris, the emphasis here is on the materiality of the image, its texture, its condition, its physicality… there is even a device created by a research lab enabling 3D renditions of photographs —an invention you would expect to see in relation to sculpture rather than photography. Continue reading

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Arles, exhibition, photography

About Women (Rencontres d’Arles – 5)

 

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Exhibition view: Laia Abril, A History of Misogyny, Chapter One: On Abortion, reproduction of an Catholic orthodox fresco depicting Jesus Christ in lament as he holds an aborted fetus in his hand [photograph by Suzanna Pozzoli]

The Rencontres d’Arles 2015 were widely decried for their lack of women photographers: only one woman actually had a solo exhibition last year (not taking into account the Discovery Award). What’s worse, it wasn’t very good, and very stereotypically “feminine” in its theme and title, the “Coup de foudre”, i.e. [love] “At First Sight”. The message seems to have gone through to the organizers for this year’s edition –there’s even a Madame Figaro Photo Award (after the woman weekly supplement to the daily Le Figaro) for one woman photographer’s work on display in Arles.
So, an effort has been made, at least quantitatively; in terms of quality, the exhibitions are moderately interesting (as it is the case overall, in my eyes), and only one stands out from the pack, Laia Abril’s. Precisely, her exhibition has garnered widespread acclaim, and won the Award by a landslide (as I have been told).

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