Olivier Zahm

  • 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


    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.



    LIKE ZORRO, WHOSE TRADEMARK Z is slashed à la Lucio Fontana into the surface of his painting Untitled, 1993, Maurizio Cattelan acts quickly—with precision, without hesitation, practicing seduction and subversion. Never striking in the same way twice gives Cattelan an anonymity that allows him to appear and disappear when he feels like it. Despite his rapid rise to international prominence, this Italian artist has not yet slipped into either estheticism or professionalism. On the contrary, his notoriety has made him something of a hero adventurer (if one without an adventure), a Pierrot le Fou

  • Olivier Zahm


    VIKTOR AND ROLF’s spring-summer collection ’96—a line of formal wear made entirely of golden fabric—was a tour de force of complex cut and formal inventiveness. Brilliantly orchestrating shape, line, and volume in endless geometrical variations, Viktor and Rolf privilege the garment itself—its formal properties—above all else, and it is this emphasis that lends their designs a quality of purity. This cleanness, however, is largely a matter of surface appearance; riddled with intentional errors and contradictions, and above all informed by a sense of humor, their fashion, or better

  • Claude Closky

    Claude Closky’s recent show centered on that ever-present question: “What does consuming mean?” A kind of ludic breviary, his work answered this question through an esthetic founded entirely on the pleasure of the consumer (of signs). At the very least, Closky’s is a paradoxical solution that samples the quickly learned and methodically forgotten lessons of conceptual art (up to Richard Prince), from Barthesian semiology to the experimental literature of Georges Perec. The form adopted, whatever the support (video, drawings, collages, or books), is like a series of propositions that contradicts

  • Ange Leccia/Jean-Luc Vilmouth

    A long metallic fish, floating above the viewer, undulated regularly, obstinately toward the back wall, as if magnetized by the chaotic procession of incandescent images illuminating the surrounding darkness. This primordial and volcanic backdrop was created by projecting Ange Leccia’s video of what looked like crashing lava, steel in fire, stellar matter in fusion, molecular chaos, and landscapes of liquid stars against the wall. Eventually it was revealed that Leccia’s video actually depicted a fire-ceremony in Japan.

    As for the fish, a piece by Jean-Luc Vilmouth, it will serve as one of the