News /

Silvia Ammon and Clément Delépine on Paris Internationale

The third edition of Paris Internationale, the “convivial” art fair supporting a younger generation of galleries and artists, will take place October 18–22, 2017, in the former headquarters of Libération, the legendary French newspaper cofounded by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1973. Flash Art spoke with Paris Internationale co-directors Silvia Ammon and Clément Delépine.

With art fairs proliferating, a clear identity is pivotal to the success of newer ones. How do you define Paris Internationale in that regard?

Silvia Ammon and Clément Delépine: A large-scale art fair can be intimidating even to veteran fairgoers. The term “convivial” was used a lot in reference to Paris Internationale — to such an extent that it became a private joke among the team. One particular comment we received from our exhibitors and visitors is that they enjoyed the “deceleration” and being able to take the time to more thoroughly discuss an artist’s work. The fair is nomadic, founded by five galleries to promote the work of a generation of like-minded galleries.

One of the main new features of this edition of Paris Internationale is its location in the multistory car park previously home to the newspaper Libération. Can you elaborate on this choice?

The inaugural edition in 2015 took place in a grand but derelict mansion undergoing renovation. In 2016 we used a truly magnificent hôtel particulier, which was originally the Parisian residence and home to the collection of Calouste Gulbenkian. For the upcoming edition, we wanted to propose something new and to completely depart from the aesthetic codes we’ve explored thus far. On our first visit we were immediately drawn to the brutalist feel of this building.

The fair will be located in the heart of Paris, between the politically loaded Place de la République and Le Marais, Paris’s traditional gallery district. Will this new location color the fair?

Politically speaking, this venue is an appropriate context to address current challenges to journalism, freedom of speech and urban development. We worked closely with the Parisian collective The Cheapest University, which organized a program of collaborative work events titled “What’s in My Bag…?” Inspired by the eponymous TV show, the reflection was driven by the current security-driven political climate in which bags of citizens are systematically inspected. This year again, we benefit from the support of the Fondation d’entreprise Ricard to organize the public program.

One of the distinctive features of Paris Internationale is the presence of nonprofit art spaces. What is their role within the fair?

Nonprofit spaces spearhead and promote an emerging scene. In Paris specifically, nonprofits are definitely agents of the city’s dynamism, which is why we decided to focus on Parisian spaces this year. PI always supported nonprofits by inviting them to partake. As you know, the venue was originally conceived as a parking lot. Libération had platforms built along the spiraling ramp to install journalists. We positioned the nonprofits on these platforms, at the very center of the fair.

by Charles Teyssou

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Review /

Julian Rosefeldt Fundación Proa / Buenos Aires

Manifesto, Julian Rosefeldt’s film project that aspires to historical grandeur, landed in Buenos Aires as an overconstructed exhibition at Fundación Proa. Three rooms host twelve films starring Cate Blanchett, who performs a kind of textual survey of the twentieth-century avant-garde.

The actor, playing such diverse characters as a firm’s CEO, a news reporter and a stockbroker, recites the seminal texts of various art movements. The screenplay allows for small affinities in the coupling of character and text: Marinetti’s accelerationist emphasis and a financial employee; the Russian avant-garde and a scientist who finds, in a research complex, a black rectangular object. For the texts of Bruno Taut, Antonio Sant’Elia and Robert Venturi, Blanchett is a worker in a trash-incinerating facility, hinting at relationships between architecture, economic growth and environmental sustainability. With remarkable precision, the actor brings an emotional range to disparate artistic ideas, conveying in turn authority (a fancy choreographer), warmth (a first-grade teacher) and exaltation (a young punk lady in a bar).

Character development, nevertheless, gives way to synchronized lecturing via the primerisimo plano of Blanchett’s face and her simultaneous reciting, on all the screens, of discourses that can have an authoritarian undertone. This climatic synchronization shifts the viewer’s attention from the individual films to what occurs in the entirety of the room.

It’s a bit off-putting that Proa’s show doesn’t end with Rosefeldt’s work. A subtle pedagogical quality is already embedded in the virtues of Manifesto (the viewer, in a specific moment, confronts six of Blanchett’s giant faces reciting texts fundamental to the Western art canon) but, in addition to the films, the institution filled an extra floor with information (photos and texts) further explaining the characters, their manifestos and, more generally, what the avant-gardes of the past century were. It is a gesture more akin to the anti-avant-garde wooden donkey Bertold Brecht kept on his desktop with the famous lemma: “Even I must understand it.” Or at least, be lectured.

by Claudio Iglesias

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Flash Art 50 /

Flash Art 50: a weekend of Italian art history
28 – 29 October
Auditorium of the National Museum of Science and Technology “Leonardo Da Vinci” / Milan

This year, Flash Art turns fifty years old. To celebrate this special occasion, the symposium “Flash Art 50” invites some of the most influential personalities in the Italian art scene to retrace the history of art from 1967 until today.

Articulated in five round tables, the symposium aims to deepen artistic research, theoretical lines and the systemic trends that have characterised five decades of editorial activity by Flash Art. Each round table will include artists, critics, curators and gallerists – all pivotal figures in the evolution of artistic discourse in their respective eras – and will be moderated by a historical representative from editorial.

The symposium will take place in the Auditorium of the National Museum of Science and Technology “Leonardo Da Vinci” (via San Vittore, 21), Milan, Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th of October 2017, from 11am to 7pm and 11am to 4:30pm, respectively.

Entry is free until allocation exhausted.

 

Program

Saturday 28 October

11:00 – 13:00

The Nineties

Stefano Arienti

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

Claudio Guenzani

Roberto Pinto

Grazia Toderi

Angela Vettese

Luca Vitone

Moderator: Emanuela De Cecco

 

14:30 – 16:30

The Seventies

Giovanni Anselmo

Piero Gilardi

Ugo La Pietra

Paola Mattioli

Paolo Mussat Sartor

Franco Toselli 

Moderator: Renato Barilli 

 

17:00 – 19:00

The Twenty-tens

Invernomuto

Eva Fabbris

Anna Franceschini

Simone Frangi

Beatrice Marchi

Valentina Suma

Marco Tagliafierro

Moderator: Michele D’Aurizio

Sunday 29 October

11:00 – 13:00

The Eighties

Achille Bonito Oliva

Laura Cherubini

Corrado Levi

Emilio Mazzoli

Maurizio Nannucci

Aldo Spoldi

Giorgio Verzotti

Moderator: Giacinto Di Pietrantonio

 

14:30 – 16:30

The Noughties

Luca Cerizza

Massimiliano Gioni

Alessandro Rabottini

Marinella Senatore

Francesco Vezzoli

Andrea Viliani

Paolo Zani

Italo Zuffi

Moderator: Barbara Casavecchia

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Review /

Jala Wahid Seventeen Gallery / London

Jala Wahid doesn’t mess around. Entering this basement gallery-cum-meat storage facility one is met by the jagged profile of a polished black spike, emerging from the wall like the fingernail of an irascible giant. Its title, Final Blade (all works 2017), indicates that this is the end of an earlier line of experimentation with jesmonite, a gypsum-based composite whose flexibility as a material has helped to shape the artist’s particular brand of bodily evisceration.

In No Hold Too Strong — a pair of oversized amputated thighs whose raw waist is treated with smears of red animal fat — a mixture of jesmonite and aluminum produces a dull, matte silver that appears numb to the pain. By contrast, Bare and Writhe, in which two rounded hunks hang from the ceiling on chains like the remnants of shorn carcasses, overlays its jesmonite base with a sickly green pigment enveloped in glass wax and honey. With a surface pockmarked by grapefruit peel, this is a vision of putrefaction as fascinating as it is nauseating.

Yet the thrust of the show is the compelling automythology produced by Wahid’s combination of uncanny bodily empathy and linguistic sensibility. This is exemplified in Akh Milk Bile Threat, a graffitied “Akh!” painted onto the wall in a mixture of pigment, breast milk and ox bile. Both form and content here reflect Wahid’s Kurdish heritage — the medium is used for body tattoos while the word itself defies translation, sitting on a spectrum between pain and relief. With meaning malleable and contingent on context, the work encapsulates the artist’s interest in Kurdistan’s undocumented histories and the extent to which they are “archived on a body.” Up close it is less a painting than a peeling, with the material’s curious consistency rendering it simultaneously permanent and fugitive. This vision of the body as text-in-flux is elaborated further next door in Oh Leander!, a video installation in which the “Akh” flickers across mutable stanzas against an oily mass of deep red gelatin. Addressing a world of confined spaces, Jala Wahid is becoming the bard of borderless meanings.

by Alex Estorick

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Review /

In Search of Expo 67 Musée d’art contemporain / Montreal

Fifty years after the fact, the utopian theater of Expo 67 — which welcomed an estimated fifty million visitors to the multilingual metropolis of Montreal — betokens a deferred promise of technological prosperity and global unity. Amid Canada’s troubled sesquicentennial celebrations, there is an understandable temptation to look back at the World’s Fair with nostalgia.

Instead, the nineteen works selected by cocurators Lesley Johnstone and Monika Kin Gagnon draw attention to fissures in the fair’s familiar image of geodesic uniformity.

Standout works include Omaskêko Cree artist Duane Linklater’s reimagining of a mural that once graced the Indians of Canada Pavilion. Long attributed to Norval Morrisseau, it was actually executed by an assistant due to government censorship of the indigenous artist’s candid depiction of a breast-feeding mother earth. Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn casts a critical glance at Canada’s vaunted history of multiculturalism, deftly weaving archival footage of an unlikely centennial project in small-town Alberta that greeted “alien” visitors with the world’s first UFO landing pad into an otherworldly allegory of the country’s fraught relationship with terrestrial migrants.

Leisure (Meredith Carruthers and Susannah Wesley) reconstructs an experimental children’s play area designed by Canadian landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, whose tiny utopia has been unjustly overshadowed by the fair’s trademark multiscreen environments. Cheryl Sim revisits the futuristic apparel sported by Expo hostesses as a screen for multivalent desires. David K. Ross’s drone-mounted camera in As Sovereign as Love (2017) retraces the one-time trajectory of the fair’s dismantled mini-rail. Present-day barriers in its aerial itinerary poignantly mark points of rupture between the utopian geography conjured by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Terre des hommes, which inspired Expo’s anthropocentric theme, “Man and his World,” and a site irrevocably transformed by time’s passage.

by Adam Lauder

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Report /

a good neighbour / 15th Istanbul Biennial

Curated for the first time by two artists, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, the fifteenth Istanbul Biennial may surprise those who expected a radical project — one grounded in the theatrical and humorous approach to institutional critique that has characterized the duo’s most accomplished interventions since the mid-1990s, such as opening a fake Prada store in the desert outside Marfa (Prada Marfa, 2005), or the staging of a play in which the actors are all notable twentieth-century sculptures (Drama Queens, 2007).

That is precisely the direction that Elmgreen & Dragset’s previous curatorial endeavors have followed: engaged to work on the Danish and Nordic pavilions at the 2009 Venice Biennale, the two transformed them into perfectly reconstructed domestic spaces, orchestrating, with their very recognizable imprint, the participation of another twenty-three artists and designers, each one of whom contributed to the hyperrealist mise-en-scène.

In Istanbul, instead, the duo have opted for a lighter touch: the exhibition is free of curatorial tricks, of a rigid and programmatic layout; it is spare, sincere, unburdened by theoretical superstructures. Even to a fault.

Grouped under the title “a good neighbour” — suggesting themes of home and proximity but also cohabitation, privacy and fear of the other — are works by fifty-six artists, thirty of which are new productions. Unlike the previous Biennial curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, which was spread across the city, including various hard-to-reach places, this edition is restricted to only six neighboring locations and can be visited without any particular exertion, taking one’s time with the works.

Some of these are notable: a mural by Latifa Echakhch, featuring the figures of protesters (reminiscent of Gezi Park’s demonstrators), that appears as though already corroded by time, on the verge of fading away; an installation by Lydia Ourahmane, with a live trumpet solo performed on the concrete frame structure of a house under construction, as a commentary on the environmental and social degradation of her native Algeria; a video by Erkan Özgen, showing a deaf-mute boy miming the Siege of Kobanî from which he’s escaped; or Alper Aydin’s installation, in which a bulldozer blade pushes branches and bits of chopped-down tree trunks in the corner of the gallery (another echo of Gezi, and of environmentalism as a metaphor for the struggle for human freedom). Monica Bonvicini’s Hausfrau Swinging, a 1997 video installation, is still incredibly current, especially in a country that is returning to discussions of whether a woman’s place is not in the home, and where domestic violence is on the rise.

Though the works just described might suggest otherwise, the Biennale’s references to Turkey’s current historical and political moment are never overt — a fact for which the curators have been criticized, as they have agreed to work on a large public event (albeit one organized by a private foundation, the IKSV) in a country where freedom of speech is increasingly restricted. In fact, subtle messages of dissent but also hope are disseminated throughout the programming. For example, as Elmgreen & Dragset told, in the choice to show Lee Miller’s photographs taken after the fall of Hitler — already seen at Documenta 13 — or to exhibit works by Liliana Maresca, the Argentinian artist who passed away in 1994, linked to the political events surrounding Argentina’s return to democracy in the 1980s. Pedro Gómez-Egaña’s large installation, which shows a secret, underground life taking place beneath the apparent order and decorum of a bourgeois interior, aptly expresses the state of the cultural scene in today’s Turkey (and wherever freedom is not guaranteed) as well as its determination to continue survive. Yet the most significant reflection prompted by the Biennial is of a universal nature, embedded in the deep wound that our era of walls, exclusions and social divisions has inflicted on the very concept of humanity. Choosing a theme of propinquity, coexistence, closeness, appears in this context like an invitation to take an interest in others, to look at and participate in lives taking place next to but also very far from our own.

A rather stark contrast to this minimalist but empathetic Biennial is offered by the sparkling Contemporary Istanbul fair, which coincided with the days of the Biennial’s opening. The co-presence of the two events, in addition to a healthy program of openings in public and private spaces, signaled that the energy — not least economic — which had made Istanbul one of the most animated cities of the international art scene is anything but extinguished. The fair, this year in its twelfth edition and headed by a new director, the London-based collector and curator Kamiar Maleki, is constantly improving in terms of both presence and quality; nonetheless, it still bears witness to the almost complete scission between the market-driven tastes represented by the fair and the conceptual radicality and aesthetic sophistication that the Biennial has been bringing to the city for thirty years — and that the best Turkish art amply incarnates.

by Cristiana Perrella

(Translated from Italian by Tijana Mamula)
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