Miriam Rosen

  • the Festival d’Automne

    FOR LAST YEAR’S FESTIVAL D’AUTOMNE in Paris, guest artist Tadashi Kawamata stacked 7,000 chairs into a 30-foot scaffolded tower beneath the dome of the Salpêtrière Hospital’s St. Louis Chapel. This month—with the floor of the venerable seventeenth-century structure reinforced to accommodate the proceedings—Anish Kapoor is installing three of his giant tinted mirrors and a beige stone sculpture. The five—ton work will be on view from September 18 to November 1.

    Founded in 1972 by Michel Guy (a mythical figure on France’s post–Malraux, pre–Jack Lang cultural scene), the annual festival is a

  • Johan van der Keuken: Le Corps et la Ville

    After more than forty years of pursuing the “fiction of the real” through photography, film, and video, Johan van der Keuken has mounted not a retrospective but a multisite “production” of his work, conceived in collaboration with Jeroen de Vries. Seven photo and/or video installations, plus the artist’s latest film, juxtapose, decompose, and recompose still and moving images, while two photo exhibits and two film series provide an overview of the artist’s work. As befits the notion of “Body and City,” it’s all being presented at various sites in Paris (the Institut Néerlandais, the Maison

  • “Musiques en Scène”

    In the Lyons subway station, the wait is enlivened not only by music playing supermarket-style over the platforms but also by a mini-slide show—projected onto billboards between the tracks—of ads for the likes of McDonald’s and local drop-in centers. This no-frills approach to media technology might well go unnoticed were it not for the unwitting commentary it offers on the far more ambitious display of multimedia prowess recently presented above ground at the Museum of Contemporary Art in conjunction with the “Musiques en scène” (Musics on stage) festival of contemporary music. Now in its

  • LIFE LINES

    WHAT THE FILMS OF ABBAS KIAROSTAMI bring to the cinema is a few thousand extra years of history. While the images, it’s true, still go by at twenty-four frames per second, they are dense with time—not only real and “reel” time, but the cumulative time of a millennial vision of culture. Kiarostami’s most recent film, Taste of Cherry (1997), for example, follows a middle-aged man as he circles an industrial suburb of Tehran in search of someone to throw dirt on his body should he commit suicide, or to help him out of the grave should he be found alive. In discussing this austere journey along

  • Tadashi Kawamata

    The twelve monumental apostles lining the transepts of the seventeenth-century chapel at La Salpêtriére Hospital have entered into an unlikely aesthetic communion with numerous works of contemporary art, from Christian Boltanski’s latter-day votive altars and Rebecca Horn’s self-playing musical instruments to Mario Merz’s igloos and a Bill Viola video triptych. Every year, the august sculptures—like the various altar paintings, religious statues, and other incitements to piety distributed throughout this imposing sanctuary—become setting and foil for a site-specific intervention commissioned as

  • Gilbert Boyer

    In Montréal, if you want to see Gilbert Boyer’s La montagne des jours (The mountain of days, 1991), you take the footpath that winds up and around Mount Royal and look along the ground for five big, flat roundels of granite, which, depending on the season and/or maintenance, may or may not be covered by leaves or snow. In Paris, the two flights of elegantly carpeted stairs leading to Boyer’s recent exhibit also went up and around, and if the trek wasn’t exactly the same, the sixteen “Réflexions-Intérieur” (Reflections-interior) lining the gallery walls were—as the title suggests—among other

  • Catherine Trautmann

    FOR THE PRICE OF A tramway ticket, the Strasbourg commuter purchases not only a ride through the city in a transparent, state-of-the-art streetcar, but also a series of encounters with contemporary artworks: Barbara Kruger’s monumental anti-advertising campaign covering the lone underground station, Mario Merz’s red-neon Fibonacci numbers in translucent glass boxes embedded between the rails over nearly a mile of the surface line, and Jonathan Borofsky’s Woman Walking to the Sky, on an eighty-two-foot pole that rises diagonally over a public square (a pendant to his Man Walking to the Sky in

  • “Paris sous verre”

    Windows, walls, doors, floors, ceilings: glass is everywhere and yet, almost by definition, we tend to look right through it. This explains in part the fascination of “Paris sous verre—la ville et ses reflets” (Paris under glass, the city and its reflections), presented at the Pavillon de l’Arsénal, the city’s center for urbanism and architecture. By focusing eye and mind on the use of glass in the architecture of Paris and its environs, this seemingly modest affair of documentary photographs and large-format light-boxes, plus a few scale models and technical demonstrations, succeeded in putting

  • “Sonambiente”

    If the occasion that gave rise to “Sonambiente” was the three-hundredth anniversary of Berlin’s venerable Akademie der Künste, this month-long “Festival for hearing and seeing” was resolutely oriented to the future of Germany’s new/old capital. In the process, what might have been just one more exhibition of electronic exotica was not an exhibition at all, but a vast program of installations, performances, concerts, film screenings, and other pockets of creativity (such as the nightly “Sonambiente Sound Bar” at the Berlin Prater beer garden) scattered throughout the city. At the core of this

  • Radical Noir

    EARLY LAST MARCH, in the thick of the protest movement against the draconian immigration law proposed by France’s Minister of the Interior Jean-Louis Debré, the residents of a working-class Paris neighborhood not far from the Bastille came together for an emergency meeting called by Gérard, the owner of the local bistrot. Gérard was furious. After fifty-four years in France, his Spanish-born wife, Maria, had suddenly been asked to produce a certificate of naturalization in order to renew her ID card. And a call from the local police station had just informed him that his Romanian cook, Vlad,

  • Ettore Sottsass

    Two and a half years after his giant retrospective-cum-autobiography conceived for the Forum of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Ettore Sottsass, the one-man-band of Italian design, returned to Paris with a more contemplative mini-exhibit of furniture entitled “Mémoires de Chine” (Memories of China). This collection of unique pieces (nine to date, with more to come) is quintessentially Sottsass in its mix of form and function—tabletops patterned like paintings, storage units in complex sculptural shapes, and towering wardrobe cabinets that impose themselves like architecture. Typical as well is the

  • “Art and Power”

    If the theme of “Art and Power” is timeless, this latest illustration of it—in the form of an ambitious exhibit organized under the auspices of the Council of Europe, examining art and architecture in Republican Spain as well as Spain under Franco, Mussolini’s Italy, Stalin’s USSR, and Hitler’s Germany—could not be more timely. Indeed, the original project dates back to 1988, the year before the fall of the Berlin wall, and its evolution is at once the result and the reflection of subsequent events. This sense of history shaping history was perhaps most acute in Berlin, where, after stops at

  • Civic Art

    JAN DIBBETS’ HOMMAGE À ARAGO (Homage to Arago, 1994) provides a striking corrective to the prevailing if outmoded assumption that public art is synonymous with statues, frescoes, fountains, and bad taste. One hundred thirty-five bronze medallions—identically stamped with the name Arago and the directional markers North and South—are embedded along the axis of Paris’ ten-kilometer meridian. Besides honoring the 19th-century French scientist and political reformer François Arago, the “longest sculpture in Paris,” as Dibbets calls it, offers those armed with the list of medallion locations a

  • Jonas Mekas

    “You’ll never know what a Displaced Person thinks,” interjects Jonas Mekas in Lost, Lost, Lost, a patchwork of footage shot between 1949 (the year Mekas arrived in New York as a D.P.) and 1963, and edited years later into short, discontinuous sequences, like so many entries in a diary, so many bits and pieces of a life in exile. From this and other “diary films” that he has assembled in the same, painstaking way since the late ’60s, Mekas has now begun to extract selected images in the form of photograms. These “fragments of memory,” as he has called them, are enlarged from the films like prints

  • Biennale de Lyon

    Culture trickles down in France, and computer culture is no exception. Just like the television set in the ’50s and ’60s, which was for a long time a luxury item, personal computers—much less CD-Rom players or Internet connections—are by no means widespread. Only about 10 percent of French households have computers, and only 10 percent of these are connected to the Internet or an online service, while the number of CD players is estimated at 500,000. This means, for the moment at least, that the art that has sprung up around these new technologies is remote from most people’s experience, but

  • Corinne Mercadier

    With her latest series of photographs, Corinne Mercadier comes full circle. For about ten years now, this Parisian artist has used a Polaroid camera to explore the ambiguous territory between public and private space. Starting with standard-format color photographs that she shoots with an ordinary camera and has developed commercially, she uses her Polaroid camera to invest the ready-made world of the snapshot with a contemplative awareness of time.

    Until now, she applied her latter-day alchemy to landscapes and seascapes devoid of human figures. The places and spaces depicted are still anything

  • Chantal Akerman

    Like the proverbial Spanish inn, Chantal Akerman’s installation “D’Est: au bord de la fiction” (From east, bordering on fiction, 1994) allowed visitors to feast on what they brought with them, from thoughts on the biblical prohibition of images to notions of history without a capital H, by way of the Holocaust, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the art of cinema, and cinema as art. Akerman has been a kind of one-person New Wave in European cinema since the ’70s, and those who were familiar with her films could immediately recognize her signature style and subjects in this first museum piece: the

  • Patrick Zachmann

    There are over 100 photographs in this exhibit and nearly 150 in the accompanying book, which bears the initially baffling title W. ou L’oeil d’un long-nez (W. or the eye of a long-nose). The scale of this show somehow befits the ostensible subject: the Chinese diaspora. Patrick Zachmann, a member of the Magnum photo agency, spent eight years exploring Chinese communities from his native Paris to the Golden Triangle, by way of New York and San Francisco, Hanoi and Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, Tahiti, and elsewhere (including a fortuitous visit to Tiananmen Square in May of 1989).

    The wealth of

  • Yann Kersalé

    Yann Kersalé’s first “Expédition lumière” (Light expedition) goes back to 1984, when the French artist set up two giant projectors in a metal-working factory on the Normandy coast in order to translate the rhythm of the smelting furnace into beams of light. In the intervening ten years, Kersalé has developed some seventy projects for lighting up the night, and more than a third of them have actually been carried out, either in the form of self-initiated “Light Expeditions” or, more often, as public commissions.

    This exhibition, designed by the artist himself for the spacious quarters of the French

  • John Vink

    Refugees: the nomads of the nation-state. They number over 20 million; another 25 million are simply labeled “displaced persons” because their flight has not taken them across an international border. Since 1987, Belgian photojournalist John Vink has been following groups of them—the identifications are cumbersome because by definition these are people from one place who have gone someplace else—Guatemalans in Mexico, Bulgarians in Turkey, Cambodians and Burmese in Thailand, Kurds in Iraq, Mozambicans in Malawi, Romanians in Hungary, as well as DPs in the Sudan, ex-Yugoslavia, and Angola. Most