Olivier Zahm

  • 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

  • Stéphane Magnin

    With back-to-back solo shows, Stéphane Magnin, a young artist working in a vein similar to that of Philippe Parreno, Pierre Joseph, and Paul Devautour, creates “behavioral décors” conceived as artistic responses to Guy Debord’s universe of the “integrated spectacle.”

    While the Situationists worked out participatory stagings that aimed at getting past spectacular alienation, Magnin’s exhibitions are alienated spectacles. The spectator is immediately integrated into the spectacle and becomes one of its components, an actor in spite of himself confronted with a universe of artificially generated

  • Claude Lévêque

    In the middle of the gallery stood a kind of shelter or rectangular cell made of unpainted cinderblocks, with a very narrow opening with just enough room for a mattress, lying on the floor and spray-painted in silver. Four radios that didn’t seem to be working right formed a square of broadcast static, and everything was bathed in harsh light.

    For a long time, Claude Lévêque’s work was attributed to the French mania for introspection, psychologizing, and nostalgic recollection. This was akin to an attempt to hide his luminous violence, which, to put it succinctly, is closer to the sensibility of

  • Fariba Hajamadi

    In this exhibition, Fariba Hajamadi worked with the conjuncture of violence and eroticism, perfecting her mode of hybrid composition—montages in which she juxtaposes different photographs taken of museum spaces. But for the first time, Hajamadi’s intervention was extended to include the gallery space. She covered each wall with wallpaper whose lively colored, repetitive patterns (like toile de Jouy) contrasted with the enigma of the sepia-toned photographs transferred onto wood. Thus, each wall held imagery that is both decorative and obsessive: scenes of executions and rape, in a series taken

  • Project Unité, Firminy

    Le Corbusier’s Unité d’ Habitation, a monumental block of low-income apartments awkwardly wedged into the hills surrounding the small city of Firminy in central France, may once have functioned as a beacon of hope; now it bears witness to a return of the repressed capitalism in crisis haunting the house of high Modernism. Completed in 1967 as part of a larger complex including a youth center, a stadium, and a church, the building was intended as a visionary response to the economic disenfranchisement caused by rapid industrialization. Continuing recession, however, has sharply reduced the local

  • OPENINGS: PATRICK VAN CAECKENBERGH

    Though Patrick Van Caeckenbergh is an essential figure in the currently lively Belgian art scene, he is less known outside his own country than artists like Patrick Corillon and Wim Delvoye. Perhaps this is because he works slowly and produces little. It might also have something to do with the fact that his art is less accessible than theirs, more complex in its self-mocking ironies and carefully maintained contradictions. Van Caeckenbergh’s elusive genealogical investigations, based on language and literature—not on the object, or even on language as post-Modern object (i.e., quotation

  • Roman Signer

    A garden table’s four legs fly away with a bang, while the top crashes, distressingly, to the floor. The flight of a stick of furniture, carried joyously aloft by three orange balloons into the blue sky, then violently stopped in its course by rifle bullets. The absurd efforts of a table mounted on four tin cans to slide over water. The useless resistance of a suitcase, bloated by the pressure of a white balloon swelling inside it like the seed of a nightmare. . . . These are some of the fifty conflagrations, collapses, flights, imbalances, ruptures, dispersions, and implosions that take place

  • Bernard Bazile

    In “IT’S OK TO SAY NO!” Bernard Bazile’s position was one of negation colored by paranoia, one meant to place the spectator simultaneously in a state of liberation and uneasy withdrawal. The title and imagery in the show were borrowed from an American manual designed to prevent children from being sexually abused (pictures on carpeting represented the perversity of adult stratagems). Bazile made an effort to place the viewer in a similar atmosphere of insecurity, of diffused stress, finally more familiar than disturbing or provocative. The flashing neon signs, placed outside the museum, evoked

  • Noritoshi Hirakawa

    Noritoshi Hirakawa, a young Japanese artist, works on cultural phenomena linked to sexuality and images of the body: on the forms of repression and control of desire. Clearly influenced by the later work of Michel Foucault, Hirakawa experiments with the limits of the “repressive hypothesis” in order to demonstrate how sexuality participates in a general discursive economy that addresses the most tenuous, individual, and day-to-day habits and behaviors, and scarcely perceptible forms of desire. The artist-as-sociologist leads this inquiry, not into inhibitions and forms of control, but into the

  • Martin Honert

    Martin Honert’s sculptures are a form of insistence: readable at first glance, they remain enigmatic nonetheless. Their banality, their insignificance, their very origin (the artist’s childhood in Bottrop, a coal-mining town in Germany) should leave us cold, instead, they do not cease to intrigue us. An enormous faux-wood starling with multicolored feathers was affixed to the wall of the gallery, like a childhood memory of a stunned starling surprised on its branch. A mundane electric transformer, a hiding place for the children of Bottrop, was planted in the middle of the gallery, on a green

  • Jutta Koether, Laurent Joubert

    It would seem almost impossible—both conflictual and contradictory—to bring together two artists such as Jutta Koether and Laurent Joubert. Having said that, this exhibition, entitled “Lettres à Démocède” (Letters to Démocède), with its politically-correct alibi (a “peaceful art” of struggle against strategy), was permeated with an intuition about painting as social affect—as a language of the minority, a decentralized expression of self, marginal, a kind of savagery, or “wild parade” as Koether puts it.

    Joubert’s pieces, in the form of painted panels, are the result of the juxtaposition and

  • DANGEROUS GAMES: XAVIER VILHAN

    CHILDHOOD IS NOT ONLY a period in life, it is also a tense in language. The infancy of language—picture books, illustrated alphabets, primers—from which Xavier Veilhan culls his imagery is that happy time when words coincide with things in the process of their discovery and acquisition as knowledge. In Veilhan’s art we confront this transitory moment when, lacking experience, we encountered the world as a game of recognition, manipulation, and appropriation. In his exhibition last winter at Galerie Jennifer Flay, Paris, the floor was covered in a multicolored checkerboard pattern. Nine game