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Marc-Olivier Wahler
Patrick Steffen


Marc-Olivier Wahler’s Lost (in LA) features an eclectic mix of French and American artists including Valentin Carron, Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel, Mike Kelley, Vincent Lamouroux, Jim Shaw, Oscar Tuazon, Thomas Hirschhorn, Tatiana Trouvé, and Marnie Weber. Financed by France Los Angeles eXchange (FLAX), the exhibition will be on view from December 1, 2012 – January 27, 2013 at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park.


Michel Blazy


Patrick Steffen: Your most recent curatorial project brings together French and American based artists, questioning the history of creative dialogue between France and Los Angeles. The title is inspired by a popular television series?

Marc-Olivier Wahler: I was talking with a few artists, both from LA and France, about the TV series “Twin Peaks”. Everyone agreed on the fact that it was the best TV series of the 90’s and for many different reasons, both from a formal and content point of view, it really left its mark on artists. Is there nowadays a TV series as influential as Twin Peaks was in the nineties? Without the slightest hesitation, most of the artists named Lost, but with one big reservation: it failed to deliver a formal link that could connect the different layers of time and space. The exhibition Lost (in LA) comes from this desire to create this formal link.   


Dewar & Gicquel


PS: Palais de Tokyo has always had a reputation of an “anti-museum”, should we consider this project as an “anti-exhibition” as well? 

MOW: It’s true that the Palais de Tokyo questions the definition of what an art venue can and should be. The exhibitions I curated there weren’t exactly anti-exhibitions, but they all tried to question the notion of what an exhibition is. If we consider the work of art as a medium integrated into a larger field, i.e the exhibition, then we should also consider the exhibition as a medium included in a bigger field, i.e. the program, which should then be considered as a medium as well. At first glance, Lost (in LA) might dodge this logic, as it seems to stand on its own. But with its absurd and “pataphysical” desire to bring a formal contribution to the TV series, this exhibition might also find its place in a larger field and contribute to the definition of the exhibition.


Tatiana Trouvé, Rock, 2007


PS: The list of artists featured in Lost (in LA) is very eclectic. What do they have in common?

MOW: Maybe they have nothing in common: they all try to develop their own “black box”. But at the same time, a good art work is for me a transitive work: one that is able to generate a multi-layered net of connections with its surroundings. For example, Vincent Lamouroux’s work will fill the entire gallery, by creating a new type of ceiling. It will function as a sort of binder, like a plane connecting dots and lines. The architecture of the venue is harnessed in the show: Nathan Hylden will reinterpret the existing gallery windows and present a new stained glass work. Tatiana Trouvé is using the existing pillars in the exhibition rooms. Robert Overby’s concrete doors and Robert Watts’s chromed African masks will be on display. Jim Shaw went to the place where the Lost series was shot and tried to get lost in the midst of Banyan trees. The whole show is about the absurd and the on-going quest for the missing link. 


PS:  How is the project financed?

MOW: France Los Angeles eXchange (FLAX) is the producer of the exhibition. FLAX is a Los Angeles based non-for-profit organisation that produces and promotes French cultural events. They approached me and the Palais de Tokyo a year ago. FLAX is in charge of the financing and has been raising funds from individual donors, US foundations, corporate sponsors, and the Institut Francais, and also includes the in-kind participation of our partners, the City of Los Angeles and MOCA.

PS: What can you tell us about your project Chalet Society in Paris? What are you aiming for with this new space?

MOW: The idea behind The Chalet Society is not to create one more art centre. The project aims to be a tool for fresh thinking about the art venue. So you need a structure which is flexible enough to test a wide range of practices. In Paris, I’ll use an old school (1,000 m2), located in the heart of St. Germain. This location will be temporary. If we use the analogy of computers, we see that nowadays software can adapt to any hardware. The software has won: it can adapt itself to any platform without changing its structure. Like the software, the art centre should be able to build its identity without being constrained by its building. Not only will this be a place to show works, but it will also be a workshop to test ideas and projects: artists, scientists, moviemakers, engineers will meet on a regular basis in order to test and document a wide range of artistic and scientific practices and see how these practices are, in turn, transformed by the activity of the tests. The Chalet Society is also focused on telling stories. One of these stories is linked to my ancestor, Saül Wahl Katzenellenbogen, who in the 17th Century became King of Poland. He stayed on the throne for only one night, but had time to deliver some predictions, in particular about the year 2012, where the apocalyptic scenarios that the Mayan’s predicted could be overcome by what he called “a poetic consciousness”. One of the goals of the Chalet Society is to collaborate with artists and scientists in order to explore this poetic consciousness.


Patrick Steffen is Flash Art Los Angeles Editor.

Marc-Olivier Wahler is an independent curator based in Paris.




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