Nicolas Trembley

  • diary October 23, 2007

    Fair Labor

    Paris

    Having misplaced the envelope containing my VIP pass to the FIAC art fair, as well as all my invitations to the week’s various dinners, I decided to do the event “plain clothes,” traveling by Vélib, one of Paris’s famous free bicycles. I wondered whether collectors were also going to take up this new method of transport, which makes the city “so cool and so real,” in the words of visiting Brits happy not to be hampered by the massive public-transportation strikes (trains, subways, airplanes—you name it). But at least one Swiss collector expressed a lack of sympathy for the proletariat: “It wasn’t

  • diary September 24, 2007

    Game Show

    Lyon

    This year, a record number of international guests descended on the Lyon Biennial, the ninth edition, titled “00s—The History of a Decade That Has Not Yet Been Named.” Fulfilling their reputation for playful conceits, curators Stéphanie Moisdon and Hans-Ulrich Obrist hatched a ludic concept, framing the event as one enormous game. To spice things up, they asked forty-nine “players,” mostly international curators (of which I was one), to answer the following question: “In your opinion, who is the essential artist of this decade?” They then undertook to present the work of the selected artists.

  • diary July 18, 2007

    Doing Time

    Manchester

    As tersely reported in Friday’s edition of the Manchester Evening News, “People traveled from across the world to see the premiere of a bizarre performance art show on stage at the Manchester Opera House.” Surely it’s no surprise to find that this was the handiwork of curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist and artist-cum-director Philippe Parreno, who masterfully manipulated the art world’s fickle laws of attraction to draw an international crowd of artistic heavyweights—and at the nadir of summer, no less. Rarely in one night had the city seen the convergence of such an assortment of artsy individuals—many

  • diary June 19, 2007

    A Fine Messe

    Basel

    Rushing directly to the Messe exhibition center from the Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg airport last Monday morning, I snuck in late to art historian Boris Groys’s lecture, part of the ongoing chatter known as “Basel Conversations.” I immediately told Maria Finders, who had organized the series with Hans-Ulrich Obrist, that she must send Groys and his copanelists—artists Emilia and Ilya Kabakov—downstairs to take part in the Andy Warhol–style Polaroid photo shoot of “The Bold and the Beautiful,” put together by Art Basel director Samuel Keller and critic-curator Stéphanie Moisdon. “Who are these two

  • diary May 29, 2007

    Black Thursday

    Paris

    The invitation to Thursday’s opening of “La Marque Noire” (The Black Mark), Steven Parrino’s “Retrospective, Prospective” at the Palais de Tokyo, prominently featured a black anarchy sign, suggesting the possibility of a riotous occasion. But the festivities for the event, a “postmortem” for the artist that utilizes every square inch of the institution’s exhibition space, started out more calm than subversive.

    A partial continuation of last year’s retrospective at MAMCO in Geneva, organized by Swiss curator Fabrice Stroun, the show foregrounds Parrino’s large black paintings. Here in Paris, the

  • diary May 02, 2007

    Amores Pesos

    Mexico City

    MACO (México Arte Contemporáneo), the new international contemporary art fair in Mexico City, took up residence last weekend in the fancy district of Lomas de Chapultepec, although no one seems to know why the site used for the fair’s first three incarnations was not chosen again. One rumor is that the original neighborhood was too poor and too close to the centro historico: Potential Mexican clients, who are, by default, rich and paranoid, were reportedly worried about their safety and felt ill at ease in the old location.

    The fair—directed by the charismatic youngster Zélika García and Spot

  • diary March 07, 2007

    Some Like It Haute

    Paris

    These days, fashion week in Paris looks a lot like art week, with countless galleries hired out by top designers to show off their creations and acres of prime museum real estate used for runway shows: Haute couture has obviously concluded that contemporary art adds that necessary je ne sais quoi to its glamorous proceedings. “Entrepreneurs like us could be described as the new patrons of the arts, latter-day Medicis,” said Sabina Belli, standing with Gilles Hennessy at an event unveiling a hundred-year-old cognac at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The venerable concoction is composed of more

  • diary February 05, 2007

    Pompidou and Circumstance

    Paris

    Last Wednesday, the Pompidou Center celebrated its thirty-year anniversary. The prime of life! But that term didn’t characterize the evening’s attendees, a serious clutch of geriatrics. President Jacques Chirac himself was in attendance, so the guest list had been run through with a fine-tooth comb by the ceremonial service of the Elysee (the equivalent of the White House). After being whipped by a cold wind during a long wait on the piazza, you had to show your credentials and ID just to enter the main hall, a fact that put the museum’s generous donors, unaccustomed to waiting in line, in a

  • diary November 01, 2006

    Open Market

    Paris

    Tuesday night, holding on to my black leather gift bag (overflowing with invitations) and my guest-of-honor pass (designed by M/M), I headed to a transparent tent inside the Cour carrée du Louvre for the preview of the “dynamic” part of the thirty-third FIAC art fair. Jennifer Flay, the laid-back artistic director, accompanied by Martin Bethenod, the charming general curator, were personally greeting their guests, who included stylish former ministers of culture Jack Lang and Jean-Jacques Aillagon. No doubt influenced by the venue’s extreme architectural sophistication, everyone tried to ignore

  • diary October 11, 2006

    Slide Show

    London

    Dear Diary, by the time these lines appear, I may no longer be walking among you, as I have promised myself I will overcome my fears and dare formidable slide number four at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

    To understand my plight, let’s backtrack to Monday morning, when I climbed aboard the Paris-London Eurostar with British journalists Sean James Rose and Jonathan Wingfield (on their way to interview Demi Moore). I was looking forward to a week stuffed full with art.

    From Waterloo station, we headed straight to Tate Modern for the preview of the latest ginormous work in “The Unilever Series,” Carsten

  • diary September 30, 2006

    Out of Season

    Toulouse

    It’s autumn, but that didn’t stop “Printemps de Septembre” from opening in Toulouse last week, and I ventured from Paris for the festivities. Started fifteen years ago in Cahors, this three-week festival/exhibition is quite popular in France. Traditionally oriented toward photography, it emancipated itself from medium specificity when it moved to Toulouse five years ago. Nevertheless, I was accompanied by a photographer, Mario Palmieri, when I boarded the shuttle plane that took me from Orly to rainy Toulouse, where I stepped into a shuttle minibus chartered by Claudine Colin Communication, one

  • diary September 17, 2006

    Frequent Flyer

    Gwangju

    This year, the opening of the fall season was marked by a slew of Asian biennials. Singapore, Shanghai, and Gwangju all opened within five days of one another, bringing to this side of the globe swarms of jet-lagged art professionals, journalists, and VIPs who would soon be suffering the heartburn caused by too-spicy kim chi. To ward off indigestion, I decided I would confine my tour to Korea.

    I’m always amazed by how many familiar faces one encounters on these trips. Checking in at Roissy, I ran into artist Stéphane Dafflon, who was just getting back from Geneva (and skipping the biennials),

  • diary July 05, 2006

    Court Appearance

    Luxembourg

    “Joy to the world! The child is (finally) come,” sung with audible relief, could have been the theme for last weekend’s very formal opening of the much-delayed Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, commonly known as the MUDAM Luxembourg, in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess and fellow travelers in the international Gotha. Shortly after climbing aboard the new TGV East train, decked out in red and pink by Christian Lacroix but missing air conditioning, I ran into Pompidou curator Christine van Assche and artist Seton Smith, and wasted no time in suggesting we

  • diary June 27, 2006

    Risqué Business

    Paris

    Excitement and excessive eroticism are generally what one expects from a Gelitin opening. But on Saturday night, competition in the Marais neighborhood of Paris was fierce, as the Gay Pride paraders flocked to the Bastille, just blocks from Emmanuel Perrotin Gallery. It was just like the good old days as half-naked celebrants chanted and waved placards reading “Trannies, dykes, pervs—we’re all wannabe sluts and proud of it!” and “Sodomy and fist fucking opens your mind.” When I related the latter slogan, Paola Pivi, who was exhibiting alongside the four-member Austrian collective, replied, “It

  • diary June 15, 2006

    Shopping List

    Basel

    A few blocks away from Art Basel, which had just opened its Art Unlimited and Art Statements sections to the sound of pounding techno, LISTE's preview party kicked off at 5 PM Monday in a rock ’n’ roll style that was more beer-and-wiener than champagne-and-petits-fours. This “alternative” fair now seems out of touch with the expectations of new collectors who associate contemporary art with high-end design, fashion, and the international jet set, prompting most visitors to comment on how very “underground” the event. “Frankly, I wouldn’t know what to choose. At least at Art Basel everything is

  • diary June 08, 2006

    Geneva Convention

    Grenoble

    Attending exhibition previews at Le Magasin, Grenoble’s national center for contemporary art, one tends to run into lots of visitors from Geneva. They come as neighbors and have been well acquainted with the center since the '80s, when Swiss-born Adelina von Furstenberg was at its helm. The preview for “Video in the Pierre Huber Collection” or “Video in the Collection of Pierre Huber” (“We hesitated between the two options,” grinned Yves Aupetitallot, the current director) was no exception. Huber, the well-known art dealer and one of the leading personalities responsible for the renewal of Art

  • diary May 15, 2006

    Vanity Fair

    Paris

    “La Force de l’Art” is the somewhat pompous title of a mega-exhibition of new French art that opened at the Grand Palais on Tuesday after having weathered a weeks-long polemical storm in the media. Announced by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin during the FIAC art fair last October, the show was designed to be “a great exhibit dedicated to contemporary French art, one that will give new visibility to French creators.” The result amounts to a kind of Parisian Whitney Biennial, and has been tagged “Expo Villepin” by critics keen to denounce it as a media stunt aimed primarily at boosting the

  • diary May 04, 2006

    Double Dutch

    Rotterdam

    Why was one of last Friday’s trains from Paris Gare du Nord to Rotterdam so packed? The arrival of an orange-clad passenger reminded me that—of course!—Saturday was Queen’s Day, the beginning of Holland’s weekend-long homage to her Majesty. If you’re not a fan of beer festivals and public urination, however, this is a holiday to avoid, and perhaps this was the reason that there were so few attendees at Witte de With’s press conference about the first exhibitions to open under the leadership of newly appointed German director Nicolaus Schafhausen. Or had the crowd thinned in reaction

  • diary January 13, 2006

    Saturday Night Fever

    Paris

    Last Saturday’s openings in Paris were quieter than usual, perhaps due to the cold wind blowing across the capital but maybe also because of a gastroenteritis scare. In the middle of Rue Louise Weiss, Emmanuel Perrotin, who informed me of the proliferating virus, made sure not to shake my hand when we said hello. I was just arriving from Galerie Nelson, where Thomas Ruff was showing new images from the “Jpegs” series presented in the Italian pavilion at last summer’s Venice Biennale. (Nelson was among the first to show Ruff’s ’80s portraits, when the gallery was located in Villeurbanne.) The

  • diary September 19, 2005

    Flower Power

    Lyon

    The title of the current installment of the Lyon Biennale—“L’experience de la durée” (Experiencing Duration)— put me in mind of the famous Parisian tearoom Ladurée. But alas, no pastel-perfect macaroons were on offer at La Sucrière, the old sugar warehouse that serves as the event’s core venue. Even if there had been, I would likely have demurred, for fear of ingesting psychotropic substances—doctored pastries being more or less in keeping with the show’s theme. Artistic director Thierry Raspail had appointed “odd couple” Nicolas Bourriaud and Jérôme Sans curators of the exhibition, which they