Nicolas Trembley

  • Left: Lyon Biennial curators Stéphanie Moisdon and Hans-Ulrich Obrist. Right: Artists Seth Price and Elaine Sturtevant. (All photos: Nicolas Trembley)
    diary September 24, 2007

    Game Show


    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.

  • Left: Manchester International Festival codirector Peter Saville and dealer Chantal Crousel. (Photo: Nicolas Trembley) Right: Ventriloquist Jay Johnson in Philippe Parreno's Postman Time. (Photo: Joel Fildes)
    diary July 18, 2007

    Doing Time


    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

  • Left: Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine codirector of exhibitions and programs, with curator Stéphanie Moisdon. Right: Yves Saint Laurent creative director Stefano Pilati. (Photos: Ryan McNamara)
    diary June 19, 2007

    A Fine Messe


    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

  • Left: Artist Jutta Koether. Right: Palais de Tokyo director Marc-Olivier Wahler with artist Olivier Mosset. (All photos: Nicolas Trembley)
    diary May 29, 2007

    Black Thursday


    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

  • Left: Dealer Pablo León de la Barra and Liliana Sanguino. Right: MACO director Zélika García. (All photos: Nicolas Trembley)
    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

  • Left: Gilles Hennessy and Sabina Belli. (Except where noted, all photos: Nicolas Trembley) Right: Chicks on Speed at the Pompidou Center. (Photo: Bertrand Prévost)
    diary March 07, 2007

    Some Like It Haute


    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

  • Left: Centre Pompidou-Metz director Laurent Le Bon. Right: French president Jacques Chirac. (All photos: Nicolas Trembley)
    diary February 05, 2007

    Pompidou and Circumstance


    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

  • Left: FIAC artistic director Jennifer Flay. Right: Architect Pepe Rojas and dealer Pablo León de la Barra. (All photos: Nicolas Trembley)
    diary November 01, 2006

    Open Market


    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

  • Left: Artist David Weiss and curator Daniel Birnbaum. (Photo: Rolf Marriott) Right: Artist Carsten Höller. (Photo: Nicolas Trembley)
    diary October 11, 2006

    Slide Show


    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

  • Left: “Printemps de Septembre” artistic director Jean-Marc Bustamante. Right: “Printemps de Septembre” president Marie-Thérèse Perrin. (All photos: Nicolas Trembley)
    diary September 30, 2006

    Out of Season


    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

  • Left: Artist Stéphane Dafflon. Right: Samuel Keller and Jens Hoffmann. (All photos: Nicolas Trembley)
    diary September 17, 2006

    Frequent Flyer


    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),

  • Left: Artist Seton Smith with Centre Pompidou curator Christine Van Assche. Right: Architect IM Pei.
    diary July 05, 2006

    Court Appearance


    “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