Miriam Rosen

  • “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

  • 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

  • Gilles Ehrmann

    Gilles Ehrmann is certainly not an unknown photographer—witness this retrospective, which was first presented at the prestigious “Rencontres internationales de la photographie” in Arles last summer. But it is no exaggeration to call him low profile. During the 1950s and ’60s, it is true, he worked for two quality magazines, Architecture d’aujourd’hui (Today’s architecture) and Réalités, and he does exhibit from time to time, but for some forty years, he has clearly preferred to pursue a personal imperative, a kind of photophilosophical quest that has most often left its traces in the form of