Olivier Zahm

  • Ange Leccia

    Conceived as an “artificial night,” Ange Leccia’s exhibition “Pacifique” was plunged into darkness and punctuated with stations formed of video images on large screens. One could argue that video projection is no longer simply a mode of representation, but has been transformed into a fluid and synthetic medium. In Leccia’s exhibition, it transported the viewer to a place where the world is no more than a trail of lights, a fleeting cartography of points and lines.

    The turn to video in “Pacifique” marked a departure for Leccia, a central figure in the art world during the ’80s in France, known

  • Marc Atlan for Comme des Garçons

    WHEN COMME DES Garçons’ head Rei Kawakubo decided to launch her first perfume in 1994, she bypassed ad agencies and hired a completely unknown Parisian graphic designer, Marc Atlan. His work—abstract, iconoclastic, minimal—perfectly complements the label that has come to signify the conceptual end of couture. Under Kawakubo’s direction, Atlan has engineered a thoroughly hypermodern product design. Comme des Garçons’ first perfume—generically named “Eau de parfum”—featured industrial packaging (it was sold in partially filled, nondescript plastic bags) bearing only the brand name, a bar code,

  • Minos Manetas

    Many artists and filmmakers, from Jeff Wall to David Lynch, have made use of digital imaging. Few, however, have addressed the technology of Microsoft or Apple per se—that is, technology as a space for the configuration of culture. What is interesting about the work of Miltos Manetas, a New York–based Greek artist, is that he envisions technology as a kind of mythology, a particular narrative realm rather than a simulacrum of the existing world (à la Baudrillard), or a vision of the future (à la Bill Gates or Bill Clinton). The digital world Manetas envisages is the distant echo of all of our

  • Ernest T.

    Many had assumed that the French artist Ernest T. had disappeared as surely as the ’80s, a decade for which he seemed almost an official critical representative. This artist, who has used various aliases to signal multiple ironic, elusive personas, first deployed the lapidary pseudonym “Ernest T.” in an advertisement he placed in Flash Art in December 1983. He later created a series of canvases that he signed with the letter T, repeating it in the form of an abstract motif in primary colors. His purpose, seemingly, was to mark the end of the avant-garde during a time of flourishing commercialism,


    ONE BY ONE fifteen actors speak their lines, taking their cues from the marks on a clear piece of film stock. An identical sliver of film runs beneath Dubbing, 1996, a video projection of this event. It’s the only indication (besides the title) that the enigmatic scene we’re watching is the dubbing of a film; the images themselves remain as invisible as the narrative does partial. In film-based projects, real-time “remakes,” and site-specific billboards, Pierre Huyghe adopts both the procedures of commercial filmmaking (casting calls, voice-overs) and avant-garde strategies (the use of

  • Serge Comte

    At the opening of his recent show, Serge Comte presented a surprise miniconcert: he and a young woman sang a duet, reproducing songs each was listening to separately on a Walkman—their hesitant vocalizations creating a vaguely psychosexual ambience. According to Comte, a young artist whose work comes out of what is now considered the third-generation “Grenoble School,” the exhibition, while it appeared in the public space of a gallery, addressed his notion of being “safe at home,” where everything is permissable and one is protected from the prying gaze of others. Comte’s work is inspired by

  • Gastr del Sol

    On the cover of Upgrade & Afterlife (Drag City), a pair of boots explode in an aqueous burst on the floor, as though the person solidly implanted in them had just disintegrated in this splash. Roman Signer’s image suits GASTR DEL SOL’s latest CD perfectly: the musical texture is unpredictable, its apparent simplicity giving way to sudden explosive bursts. Upgrade & Afterlife is shot through with musical luminaries: here, Chicagoans David Grubbs and Jim O’Rourke are assisted by such collaborators as Gene Coleman (on bass clarinet), Tony Conrad (violin), and Günter Muller (amplified percussion).


    RATHER THAN SIMPLY showcasing Martin Margiela’s Fall/Winter ’96–’97 collection, Anders Edstrom’s dressed-down photographs capture those moments between show and studio: models sitting around sipping coffee, camping on standard catwalk poses, flashing toothy grins. As unstudied as they seem, these pictures mirror Margiela’s penchant for pure forms, for the disruptive energy that comes from busting up the conventions of slick, high-gloss glamour. Devoid of detailing, even zippers or fastenings, this latest collection, in which minimal garments are often held in back by nothing but elastics,

  • Île de Beauté

    IF AMERICAN ARTISTS HAVE BEEN turning to celluloid in record numbers (Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat being only the latest such venture), the French aren’t far behind, even if they have bypassed Hollywood for the look and feel of experimental film. Last winter, Sophie Calle’s road-movie cum unrequited love story, No Sex Last Night, 1996, an debuted in a few art-house theaters; this fall, Ange Leccia and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster will follow suit with their first filmic effort, Île de Beauté (Island of beauty).

    Gonzalez-Foerster, whose own artwork often draws heavily on biographical accounts, worked


    AT 24, New York-based Mario Sorrenti is not only one of the youngest but the most controversial of the latest crop of fashion photographers. Though top magazines have called on him regularly since his 1991 debut in The Face, and Calvin Klein picked him to photograph the 1992 Obsession campaign, only his most conformist images are typically published. The often unflinchingly sexual, even raw psychic charge that infuses his precisely composed photographs can sometimes make fashion editors uneasy. But Sorrenti, conscious that the look he helped launch—a combination of the stylized vérité of Bruce

  • François Roche

    OF LATE PARISIANS have been forced to stand by as their most cherished collective memories turn to rubble. In 1993, the Piscine de Ligny, the height of chic in the ’20s, was allowed to sink into the Seine. The city’s most recent affront is its plan to tear down Paris’ only American-style diner/after-hours minimall, Le Drugstore, which has been a fixture on the Boulevard St. Germain for decades. It is against this civic amnesia that the young architect François Roche battles. The point man for a new urbanism, he rejects the French predilection for spectacular buildings—for the sort of high-style

  • Gilles Deleuze’s _ABC’s_

    ODDLY ENOUGH FOR FRANCE, where literary-chat shows are prime-time staples, Gilles Deleuze managed to make it through a lifetime as a philosopher without ever appearing on TV—well, almost. In 1988, nearly exhausted by the serious respiratory problems that led to his death last November, Deleuze agreed to work with the French/German cultural channel Arte. But he categorically refused either to submit to an interview or to sanction a documentary of his life and work, insisting instead on designing his own broadcast with Claire Parnet, his former student and his interlocutor in Dialogues. Together


    I FIRST NOTICED David Sims’ work six years ago when his vignettes of young Brits in thrift-store clothes, captured in slack, half-conscious poses, showed up in The Face and British iD. Shortly thereafter his images found their way into Harper’s Bazaar. But it was the photos Sims shot for Fabien Baron’s 1993 Calvin Klein ads that propelled him (and model Kate Moss) to international prominence. Sims’ images for the minimal, precisely composed Klein ads, like his subsequent work, retained the immediacy that marked his defiantly casual earlier style; indeed, the quirky expressions and unselfconscious


    WHEN DUTCH PHOTOGRAPHERS Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin trained their camera on the Spring/Summer collection of Belgian-born Véronique Leroy, the chemistry was instant. Haunted by the the souped-up glamour of the ’80s, Leroy reworks the decade’s fetishistic, hypersexy fashions (epitomized by Thierry Mugler); her designs make for a perfect match with Van Lamsweerde and Matadin’s canny revisioning of Guy Bourdin’s surreal fashion photography of the ’60s and ’70s. Both share an arch regard for the codes and clichés of glamour, and it is this affinity that electrified the April ’94 spread

  • Gerard Fromanger

    Though Gerard Fromanger is considered one of the most significant figures in what has been called the “critical figuration” movement—which includes Valerio Adami, Eduardo Arroyo, and Jacques Monory—his work has not been exhibited in several years. With this show he returned to the scene in spectacular fashion with five monumental paintings, as well as a series of 25 four-color works that refer to recent conflicts ranging from the Gulf War to the disaster in Yugoslavia. Since he launched his career in 1965, he has never stopped investigating the possibilities of painting. The vexing question for


    READY-MADE EXOTICISM, chic urbanity, squeaky-clean sexuality: by and large the image of fashion that comes at us from the top-end glossies trades on a narrow range of esthetic codes. But fashion—at least fashion that goes beyond ossified convention—happens where the street meets the showroom; however entangled the umbilical cord that joins the two, the connection guarantees life. The most vaunted of couturiers have always been bottom feeders when and where it counts, and today the work of fashion’s most innovative photographers, as much as fashion itself, feeds on the culture of the club and

  • Dominique A.

    IN 1992, THE INDIE French label Lithium launched its third record, the debut album by a young singer from Nantes named Dominique A., to a sudden, unexpected succès fou. La Fossette (The dimple), a low-fi, tremulous, and disquieting homemade CD, was filled with melancholic little tunes tapped out on a Yamaha keyboard and a Caslo VL Tone, accompanied by the occasional electric-guitar riff. The album’s relation to the French tradition of singer-songwriters was like that of turpentine to varnish: Dominique A.’s peculiar combination of sentimentality and acidity is reminiscent of Beck’s flaunting of


    RIGOR AND ECONOMY OF CUT, a marked absence of artifice, the clash of high-tech and traditional fabrics. Helmut Lang's deceptively simple designs lend even the most basic garment a subversive edge. Yet while his use of high-tech materials has been much discussed, the frisson of his interventions has less to do with the techno-club futurism reflected in recent collections by Jean Colonna, Katherine Hamnett, Martin Sitbon, Rifat Ozbek, and Walter von Beirendonck than with his wholly sartorial solutions. Lang's fashions remain autoreferential; he is concerned first and foremost with the formal

  • Alix Lambert

    After a series of works documenting four marriages and divorces, Alix Lambert has moved on to a different social institution. In her recent installation she took on professional sports (basketball and boxing), examining them in terms of their representation of masculine codes of behavior in American society. As in her previous photo series, the artist engages in an intimate and bodily appropriation of social codes. Lambert’s imitation of these rituals arises less from the tradition of performance than from the specular logic of fashion: the artist becomes a “top-model” of her own brand of

  • A.P.C.

    WITH ITS SOBER, SOMETIMES ANODYNE, but never banal style, the clothing designed by A.P.C. embodies designer Jean Touitou’s personal philosophy: his rejection of fashion as an index of social status. This is not to say that by emphasizing functional simplicity and quality, Touitou is attempting to bypass the seasonal ins and outs of fashion; he simply wants to work the system with a twist. This moderate approach to revolution is certainly at the root of his success with his intellectual though never quite left-bank Parisian clientele—an anticonformist but socially well-established crowd.