Miriam Rosen

  • Taysir Batniji

    “I am against boys becoming heroes at ten / Against the tree flowering explosives / Against branches becoming scaffolds / Against rose-beds turning into trenches / Against it all / And yet / When fire consumes my friends, my youth, my country / How can I stop a poem from becoming a gun?” Taysir Batniji’s exhibition reminded me of these verses by the Palestinian poet Rashid Hussein. Notwithstanding their timeliness, they date from the mid-’70s, when Hussein was living in exile in New York. Batniji, who was born in Gaza City in 1966, six months before the beginning of the Israeli military occupation,

  • Grete Stern

    Even without knowing the facts of Grete Stern’s long life—she was born in Wuppertal-Eberfeld in 1904 and died in Buenos Aires in 1999—one could discern her itinerary from the photos on view: the composition studies and portraits in the unmistakable Bauhaus style that marked her beginnings in Dessau and Berlin (1927–33); a lone advertising design evoking her three years in London, where she went with fellow student and future husband Horacio Coppola following Hitler’s election; and a more extensive group of portraits, nudes, cityscapes, landscapes, and other works from Argentina where she

  • Des territoires

    The blind men would have had quite a time with this elephant called “Des territoires.” Among its salient features: an iconoclastic interdisciplinary seminar on the impact of globalization, which has been meeting at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris every week for the past seven years; a journal reporting on same (five issues to date);a student photography workshop initiated in 2000 to put the theories of the seminar into practice; and most recently—the tip of the elephant, so to speak—a public exhibition and film program. All of which, cumulatively aimed at exploring

  • “Proximités”

    Over the centuries, the tiny town of Melle (4,000 souls at last count) has accumulated an enormous history, crisscrossed, among others, by Romans, Visigoths, Franks, Vikings, Arabs, countless medieval pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostela, English troops (in the wake of the Hundred Years' War), and Protestant Reformers (in the wake of Calvin's visit to nearby Poitiers). This particularly dense per capita past provided not simply the background but the backbone of “Proximités” a summer-long exhibition presented in three of Melle's historic monuments, with works by twenty-one

  • Ricard Terré

    In an uncanny reversal of roles, photographer Ricard Terré has been stalking, Death since the mid-’50s. Not the imminent death that resides over battlefields, natural disasters, or police morgues, but the transcendent death that haunts the rituals of the living: Carnival, Holy Week processions, funerals. This unconventional pursuit had a precise beginning, in 1957 in Terré’s native Barcelona, where the twenty-nine-year-old business-school graduate turned painter and caricaturist had begun experimenting with photography: “It was during Holy Week,” he said. “Twenty-four shots in half an hour. All


    RAYMOND DEPARDON TALKS LIKE HE PHOTOGRAPHS, like he films, like he writes: profusely. And the torrent of words is intensified by the singular sound of his voice, always slightly hoarse, out of breath, and devoid of Parisian preciosity. Difficult to translate into print much less into English (imagine a French version of Peter Falk), but eminently worth signaling by way of introduction. The title of Depardon’s current photo and film retrospective at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris felicitously captures the pattern of his speech no less than the meandering of his career: “Détours

  • “Transparence, Opacité?”

    Caution: An exhibition of fourteen contemporary Chinese artists curated by a French philosopher specializing in Byzantine doctrines on the icon is likely to be about something more than the works presented. Indeed, the key element of the title “Transparence, opacité?” is neither “transparency” nor “opaqueness,” but the question mark at the end. And the questions in question, as philosopher-curator Marie-José Mondzain explains in the remarkable travelogue that serves as catalogue essay, have to do with what is physically, perceptually lacking in the individual works themselves: a succession of

  • “Orbis Terrarum”

    As curator Moritz Küng acknowledges in his catalogue preface, the relation between cartography and contemporary art is not a new theme. But what distinguishes “Orbis Terrarum: Ways of Worldmaking” from such predecessors as MOMA’s 1994 “Mapping” or the Stedelijk Museum/Wellington City Gallery’s 1996 “The World Over-Under Capricorn” is the place where it was presented: the former Officina Plantiniana printing house, which published the finest maps of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries—including the very first world atlas, the Theatrum orbis terrarum (1570), which gave its name to the

  • Kader Attia

    LA PISTE D'ATTERRISSAGE (THE LANDING STRIP), 1997–99, is the name given to a deserted stretch of beltway at the northern edge of Paris by the Algerian transsexuals and transvestites who work there as prostitutes. It is also the name that French photographer Kader Attia has given to his color-slide installation about the lives of these several hundred “creatures” (as they call themselves) who have left Algeria under threat of murder, made their way clandestinely into France, and, for lack of working papers, “landed” on the sidewalks of the boulevard Ney in their wigs, miniskirts, and spike heels.

  • “Magnum°”

    Although the number of visitors may not be the best criterion for judging an exhibition, the crowds that made their way to the Bibliothèque Nationale to see the Magnum photo agency’s “Essais sur le monde” (Essays on the world) are worthy of note, and not only in quantitative terms. For these were visibly not the usual tourists “doing” Magnum between Beaubourg and the Louvre, or professional gallery-goers popping in between the Marais and avenue Matignon, but members of an elusive social category that all curators doubtless dream of attracting: the general public. They came alone, in pairs,

  • Orbis Terrarum

    Taking its title form the first modern atlas—Antwerp cartographer Abraham Ortelius's 1570 Theatrum orbis terrarum, printed in what is today the Museum Plantin-Moretus—this exhibition juxtaposes works by thirty-six international artists with a selection of major atlases from the golden age of Flemish and Dutch cartography. With contemporary works from the likes of Laurie Anderson, Fischli & Weiss, Mona Hatoum, Uri Tzaig, and Gabriel Orozco, plus public projects by Chris Burden, Thomas Hirschhorn, Job Koelewijn, Aglaia Konrad, Matt Mullican, and Rémy Zaugg, the show examines the ways we

  • Abbas Kiarostami

    Abbas Kiarostami, photographer? But of course—even, it might be argued, when he makes films: Just think of the Iranian director’s Taste of Cherry (1997), with its ninety-nine minutes of fixed-camera shots. And in his new film, The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), people move, cars move, clouds move, animals and insects move, but the camera’s eye that observes and records them most often remains motionless—and at one with the viewers sitting in front of the movie screen.

    As it turns out, Kiarostami has been taking “real” photographs for some twenty years. The motivation, he insists, came not from any

  • Felten-Massinger

    The photographs of Christine Felten and Véronique Massinger are literally one of a kind, for each is a positive image obtained directly on Cibachrome paper by means of a modern-day version of the camera obscura—an old camper painted black inside and fitted with a tiny aperture in its back wall. Indeed, the two Brussels photographers, who have been working as one for the past decade under the combined name Felten-Massinger, have transformed their collaborative venture into a nonprofit corporation known as Caravana Obscura (a play on the French word for camper, caravane). But, as evidenced by the

  • the Centre de la Jeune Création

    PARIS’S NEWEST CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER won’t open until September, but it’s already making waves on the French arts scene, if in ways not necessarily anticipated by its initiators. As announced by Minister of Culture Catherine Trautmann last April, the Centre de la Jeune Création will be a showcase for young, edgy French art. With about five million dollars in seed money, the new center will take up some 3,000 square meters of exhibition space in the now-vacant west wing of the Palais de Tokyo, the Neoclassical complex built in 1937 to house the Musée National d’Art Moderne (which moved to the

  • “L’objet désorienté”

    Like an Unidentified Flying Carpet, “L’objet désorienté” (The disoriented object) landed in the glass-roofed exhibition hall of the museum with a crew of nine contemporary Moroccan artists and a cargo of some four thousand everyday items from Morocco’s urban bazaars and rural markets. Suffice it to say that the “disorientation” was hardly limited to the objects on display. What to make of this giant installation, composed of everything from bread trays and butter churns to jogging shoes and motorbike seats, meticulously ordered by the artists into a series of geometric modules to create a kind

  • Massimo Vitali

    Massimo Vitali might not appreciate the comparison, but every time I look at his outsize color photographs, I think of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. The tide is not entirely irrelevant to Vitali’s subjects—crowded Italian beaches and discos as sites of mass leisure activity. But the real association is perceptual rather than thematic: It has to do with the way we look at these works and what we actually see.

    For those unfamiliar with the Italian photographer’s imposing originals (approximately 59 by 71 or 71 by 83 inches), a brief caveat is in order: They reproduce about as

  • Printemps de Cahors

    The Printemps de Cahors is, in the words of its organizers, an annual “gamble.” The youngest of France’s major photography events (the venerable Rencontres Internationals in Arles is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this summer, while Perpignan’s “Visa for the Image,” devoted to photojournalism, is now in its eleventh year), the eight-year-old festival is dedicated to presenting the cutting edge of photography and the visual arts to the broadest possible public—an inevitable challenge. But Printemps de Cahors has clearly staked out both its territory and its style. The focus on photography

  • Issey Miyake

    With overtones of Picasso’s Cubist-inspired costumes for the 1917 ballet Parade and undertones of Rebecca Horn’s self-playing musical instruments, some twenty-five of Issey Miyake’s designer fashions leaped about in a mechanized ballet called Jumping, which served to welcome the public to “Issey Miyake Making Things,” the exhibition he conceived for the Fondation Cartier. For those who may not have grasped the English-language title, the dresses, coats, and other outfits bouncing down from the ceiling and up from the floor doubtless conveyed the iconoclastic spirit of the undertaking (especially


    Johan van der Keuken has been rediscovered at least once every decade since the first appearance of his work in the ’50s. In 1955—he was seventeen at the time—a precocious book of photo portraits (entitled, appropriately enough, We Are 17) earned him considerable attention in his native Holland; a two-year scholarship to the prestigious IDHEC film school in Paris followed. In 1965-66, a major exhibition of his photographs made its way to various Dutch museums, and in 1975 the Cinémathèque Québécoise in Montreal granted van der Keuken his first film retrospective outside the Netherlands.

  • “Le Travail de mémoire”

    In a year of seemingly nonstop commemorations in France (the Edict of Nantes, the abolition of slavery in the French colonies, May ’68), the Parc de la Villette organized a timely if provocative program of photo exhibits and panel discussions invoking less glorious aspects of recent history under the collective title “1914–1998, Le travail de memoire” (1914–1998: The work of remembering). Visitors were greeted at the entrance to one of the two exhibition sites by a lengthy quote from Walter Benjamin on the necessity of “working” memory as one works the land, but a single sentence from one of