Occidental Tourist

Kate Sutton at the 43rd edition of FIAC

Left: Jenny's Mathew Sova and Jenny Borland at Paris Internationale. Right: Hunt Kastner's Kacha Kastner and Camille Hunt Hôtel de Talleyrand.

THIS YEAR, the weeklong gap between Frieze and Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC)—out of respect, it turns out, for Yom Kippur—gave way to some less than respectful headlines, pitting the two fairs in a bitter battle for galleries. While many collectors did have to choose between the events, most of the press ran with what they were given, trading tallies of who was in, who was out, and whether the early Brexit wounds were enough to counter “what happened to Kim.”

Thankfully, Paris didn’t seem too concerned with imaginary scores against London, focusing instead on the things it can be for itself. With almost a year since the attacks of last November, there’s still a palpable skittishness (a friend swore off a hipster-chic neighborhood café that prevented people from taking shelter during a recent false alarm), but also an atmosphere of purpose and even pride. Appropriately, this year’s FIAC week kicked off Sunday night with the opening of Georges Didi-Huberman’s sweeping historical survey at Jeu de Paume, “Soulèvements” (Uprisings!), which blanketed the city with beautiful, bolstering banners featuring images like Gille Caron’s photographs of the 1969 riots in Northern Ireland, Tadeusz Kantor’s 1967 Sea Concert, or Dennis Adam’s Airborne, a photograph of a red plastic bag soaring American Beauty–style against a cerulean sky.

“There’s a completely different energy in Paris right now,” dealer Daniele Balice observed. “No one cool thinks it’s okay to spend twenty-five euros on a cocktail anymore.” (NB: That didn’t seem to dampen enthusiasm for Scarlett Johansson’s gourmet popcorn bar, which made its weekend debut amid the galleries in the Marais.) When Balice’s gallery, the Belleville staple Balice Hertling, expanded to a second space earlier this year, it did so not because of the usual grow-or-go pressures. Instead, the gallery wanted to provide a rent-free platform to artist-run spaces and emerging galleries from abroad. For FIAC week, the venue was given over to What Pipeline, the Detroit space helmed by artists Alivia Zivich and Daniel Sperry, while future plans include collaborations with initiatives like Los Angeles’s Full Haus and New York’s Queer Thoughts. “Paris has a lot of great institutional spaces,” Balice continued. “I think it’s cool to host more alternative options as well.”

Left: Bugada Cargnel's Frederic Bugada with artist Alfredo Aceto at FIAC. Right: Artist Saâdane Afif and Marcelle Alix's Isabelle Alfonsi at FIAC.

A similar idea animates the new creative hub in Villejuif, a suburb in the shins of Paris, where an old factory building has been converted into studios for artists. Neïl Beloufa, the original homesteader, transformed his mammoth studio into the set for his first feature film, Occidental Hotel. Visitors find themselves strolling into a two-story, Modernist-lite hotel with a lobby, bar, and a carpeted second-floor hallway of rooms, accessible only through the occasional peephole. With the film currently in postproduction, Beloufa has decamped to a workspace closer to home, but for the remainder of the lease, he decided to open the Villejuif studio—including the film set—to other artists and curators for a series of loose exhibitions under the rubric “Occidental Temporary.”

Last Sunday evening, while Didi-Huberman was presiding over his uprisings, a crew of artists and their enablers descended on Villejuif for “The Next Event and Its Content,” Occidental Temporary’s final foray before the end of Beloufa’s lease. Among the offerings were a solo by sculptor Kira Freije, a showcase of collaborative paintings from the Galerie Palette Terre, and “That Cool Decline,” a series of interventions in and around the hotel set curated by Emilie Renard, Barbara Sirieix, and Anatole Barde, and boasting contributions from artists like Jirí Kovanda, Julie Béna, Agnieszka Polska, and Jo-ey Tang. “The title is an anagram of Occidental Hotel,” Renard clarified, though it could easily apply to the evening as a whole. Nabbing a cocktail from the bar, I slid into a “restaurant” booth with Freije, curator Stella Bottai, and Herald St’s Nicky Verber to wait for a fleeting sushi tray, which was being prepared by a very real caterer in the very fake kitchen. The seat provided the peripheral entertainment of watching guests test the handle of the hotel’s (decoy) restroom, then try to suavely back away as if they had known all along it was a fake door.

Left: Curator Nicolas Trembley, artist Matthew Lutz-Kinoy, dealer Sylvia Kouvali, and curator Julie Boukobza. Right: Curator Matthieu Poirer with Gladstone Gallery's Mathias Wille.

After waiting out two sushi trays, it was off to Belleville to catch the tail-end of Henning Bohl’s opening at the What Pipeline pop-up. Bohl’s tapestries and collages were inspired by “the Knot Guy,” a mysterious entity who dedicates his online life to seeking out and shaming bad imitations of good Celtic knots. There couldn’t have been a more prescient form for the impromptu midnight dinner for fifty at a nearby Thai restaurant, where the system of high wooden tables and “authentic” cushions meant once someone was seated, any attempt to move resulted in a tangle of legs. (or, if you were lucky, other limbs.) I found myself wedged among dealer Alexander Hertling, artist Cédric Rivrain, and a comely bottle of wine, so I was content staying put, though I did experience a twinge of order envy watching some of the adventurous dishes headed to dealers Alex Freedman, Jenny Borland, Mathew Sova, and Paul-Aymar Mourgue d’Algue at the neighboring table. “Our gallery in LA is right next to a Thai place,” Freedman confessed. “I’m now a pro at ordering for forty.”

The next morning, What Pipeline continued their sojourn in Paris with a “booth” (actually an auxiliary kitchen) at the sophomore edition of Paris Internationale, a promising new fair initiated by local galleries Crèvecœur, High Art, Antoine Levi, and Sultana, alongside a sympathetic Swiss colleague, Gregor Steiger. Much needed both before and after the demise of FIAC’s own “young” satellite OFF(icielle), for its second outing, the Paris Internationale moved just up the Avenue d’Iéna from last year’s venue to the hôtel particulier of Calouste Gulbenkian. “He was like this Armenian Gatsby figure, but from Portugal,” fair co-director Clément Delépine helpfully put it, as I struggled to take in the grandeur of the central marble staircase.

Left: Curators Josh Ginsburg, Stefanie Hessler, and Heidi Ballet at Jeu de Paume. Right: Dealer Daniel Marzona and artist Vajiko Chachkhiani at Paris Internationale.

“The domestic setting is really important here. People in Paris are mainly buying art for their own houses,” explained Crèvecœur’s Axel Dibie, who had matched some wily Mick Peter sculptures with Louise Sartor’s postcard-sized gouache renditions of paparazzi shots of anonymous It-girls. Though I wouldn’t necessarily describe the sprawling marble palace as a “domestic interior,” Green Art Gallery’s Yasmin Atassi looked perfectly at home in an exquisite loveseat in the library, where she had a suite of stunners from Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Chaouki Choukini, and Seher Shah. “This chair is actually Damascene,” she told me, as I marveled at its intricate inlaid detailing. “I borrowed it from my aunt’s place here in Paris. I figured if we were going to be in a house…” Looking even more comfortable were dealers Beat Raeber and Raphael Oberhuber, who were kicking back at KOW’s second-floor parlor, where the “desk” happened to be a balcony overlooking the Arc de Triomphe (as well as the little triangular traffic island below, where art adviser Alex Marshall could be seen frantically pacing, phone glued to his ear). Another booth used full bottles of Pellegrino to prop open their doors.

This bit of decadence was a sharp contrast with the reality for most of the participating artists (and, for that matter, dealers), a fact not lost at the fair. At Project Native Informant, Georgie Nettell and Morag Keil’s video The Fascism of Everyday Life, 2016, riffed on House Huntersesque TV shows with up-close-and-personal tours of the artists’ own apartments, from the half-empty kitchen cupboards to the slumbering roommates to Zoopla online property valuations. The opening salvo of stock footage of “domestic bliss” (young families beaming at each other across their spotless kitchens) was in keen opposition to the closing shot of Keil waving from her balcony atop a Chicken Cottage in Shoreditch.

Speaking of staying home, the designated small talk for the week seemed to be The Absence of Americans—a concept collectors Phil and Shelley Fox Aarons simply shrugged off when I bumped into them basking in the Eloise Hawser sculptures at VI, VII. While Americans may not have arrived en masse as in the past, there was a noticeable Angeleno presence, with galleries like Jenny’s, Chateau Shatto, and 1301PE at Paris Internationale. The California accent was even stronger at FIAC, with Blum & Poe, Regen Projects, Hannah Hoffman, Freedman Fitzpatrick, Overduin & Co, Ghebaly, Cherry and Martin, and San Francisco’s Jessica Silverman. Suddenly those plans for a Los Angeles FIAC franchise—quietly shuffled into oblivion after the original 2015 announcement—didn’t seem so strange.

Left: Artist Charbel-joseph H. Boutros with Grey Noise's Hetal Pawani, and Umer Butt at Chez André. Right: Dealer Federico Vavassori at Paris Internationale.

FIAC opened Wednesday morning with a shower of unseasonably serene sunshine that made everything in the Grand Palais that much prettier. Dodging Belgians in the aisles, I caught a lush Sarah Crowner at Simon Lee, several choice Otobong Nkangas at In Situ/Fabienne LeClerc, some spirited new Urs Fischer pieces at Sadie Coles, and a solo presentation of Cathy Wilkes at Modern Institute. Upstairs, Micky Schubert paired gorgeous new collages by Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili with a bulbous, sofa-sized rock of sorts, built by her father, set designer Georgi Alexi-Meskhishvili. “He made it for a play, but then people complained that it was too phallic,” Schubert admitted. “Actually, that story alone is sort of its own artwork.”

Another booth with its own narrative was Galerie Perrotin’s, a chic, black-and-white selection curated by Elmgreen & Dragset. “You should have seen it a month ago,” Ingar Dragset grinned. As part of the duo’s recent efforts to insert fairs into the museum, the artists had originally installed the gallery’s full FIAC booth as a solitary structure in an empty Grand Palais, open to the public for one day only on September 24. “How did you get permission?” I marveled. “It’s Emmanuel Perrotin,” the artist laughed. “He can make anything happen.”

Left: Collector Martin Hatebur with OSMOS's Cay Sophie Rabinowitz and MoMA's Christian Rattemeyer at Paris Internationale. Right: Dealer Hannah Hoffman at FIAC.

As for making things happen, across town in the Marais, the Fondation d’Entreprise Galeries Lafayette—who have confirmed their plans to launch their Rem Koolhaas–designed museum next September—dangled a teaser of what’s to come with their “Lafayette Anticipation” prelaunch program. For FIAC, this included “Joining Forces with the Unknown,” a group show curated by Charles Aubin, Anna Colin, Hicham Khalidi, and François Quintin that gathered artists like freshly minted Hugo Boss Prize winner Anicka Yi, Simon Fujiwara, Cally Spooner, Rayyane Tabet, Lucy McKenzie, and Oliver Laric in an old Weber Métaux hardware store in the Marais.

On the third floor, Khalidi graciously talked me through designer Mary Ping’s label, Slow and Steady Wins the Race, and its piece Metamorphosis, which invites leather craftsman to hybridize a set of three handbags from a worktable on site in the exhibition space. With each subsequent generation, the characteristics of the original handbags—“They’re recognizable shapes, but legally I can’t tell you whose,” Khalidi grinned—mutate and multiply, sprouting additional straps and handles. I had arrived just as the artisans were finishing the very last bag, which would complete the installation. “You’ll have to come back to see how it all develops,” the curator said. Deal.

Left: Dealer Maria Bernheim with artist Philipp Timischl at Chez André. Right: Dealer Laura Mitterand with Material Art Fair's Rodrigo Feliz at Paris Internationale.

Left: Dealers Joel Mesler, Javier Peres, Sarah Douglas, and Kim Brown at FIAC. Right: Dealers Pilar Corrias and Mary Cork with artist Gerasimos Floratos at FIAC.

Left: Emanuel Layr's Felix Gaudlitz and Grey Noise's Umer Butt at Chez André. Right: Fondation d'entreprise Galeries Lafayette's François Quintin and Labor's Pamela Echeverría at FIAC.

Left: Dealer Micky Schubert and writer Zoe Stillpass at FIAC. Right: Jeu de Paume director Marta Gili speaking at Hôtel de Talleyrand.

Left: Galerie Palette Terre's Bastien Cosson with artist Aurélien Porte at Occidental Temporary. Right: Galerie Perrotin's Raphaël Gatel.

Left: Curator Martha Kirszenbaum at Occidental Temporary. Right: Curator Aukje Lepoutre Ravn, Fanclub's Ellesiv Selseng and Andrea Deres, Sarah Hansson, Tina Ryoon, and Fondation d'entreprise Galeries Lafayette curator Hicham Khalidi at Lafayette Anticipation.

Left: Karma International's Karolina Dankow and Marina Olsen at FIAC. Right: Jeu de Paume curator Heidi Ballet with VI, VII's Esperanza Rosales at Hôtel de Talleyrand.

Left: Koppe Astner's Emma Astner and Kendall Koppe at Paris Internationale. Right: Kunstverein in Hamburg's Bettina Steinbrügge with collector Yola Noujaim at Chez André.

Left: MCA Santa Barbara's Frederick Janka with John Connelly at Paris Internationale. Right: Marcelle Alix's Isabelle Alfonsi and Cécilia Becanovic at FIAC.

Left: Rebecca Taylor with curator Mari Spirito at FIAC. Right: Queer Thoughts's Sam Lipp and Luis Miguel Bendaña.

Left: Tolga Al and Art Basel's Marc Spiegler at FIAC. Right: Shelley Fox Aarons and Phil Aarons at Paris Internationale.

Left: What Pipeline's Daniel Sperry with artist Bailey Scieszka and Dylan Spaysky's 4'11" Duck at Paris Internationale. Right: VI, VII's Esperanza Rosales with Centre Pompidou's Yung Ma at Hôtel de Talleyrand.

Left: Truth and Consequence's Paul-Aymar Mourgue d'Algue at Paris Internationale. Right: Occidental Temporary.

Left: Creveceour's Axel Dibie at Paris Internationale. Right: Artists Nick Devereux and Wilfrid Almendra with Triangle's Céline Kopp.

Left: Artist Neïl Beloufa and curator Emilie Renard at Occidental Temporary. Right: Balice Hertling's Daniele Balice.

Left: Artist Kira Freije, Herald St's Nicky Verber, and curator Stella Bottai at Occidental Temporary. Right: Curator Elena Filipovic with Clearing's Olivier Babin.

Left: Green Art Gallery's Yasmin Atassi at Paris Internationale. Right: Curator Okwui Enwezor with artists Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige speaking at FIAC.

Left: Artist Deanna Havas with dealer Emanuel Layr at Chez André. Right: Bugada Cargnel's Claudia Cargnel with artist Claire Tabouret.

Left: Dealer Fabrienne Leclerc at FIAC. Right: Mor Charpentier's Philippe Charpentier and Alex Mor at FIAC.

Left: Artist Maurizio Cattelan with Myriam Ben Salah. Right: Project Native Informant's Stephan Tanbin Sastrawidjaja with Jackson Bateman at Paris Internationale.

Left: RaebervonStenglin's Beat Raeber and KOW's Raphael Oberhuber at Paris Internationale. Right: Dealers Taylor Trabulus, Giulia Roberti, Gavin Brown, and Lucy Chadwick at FIAC.

Left: Marian Goodman's Roger Tatley and Valerie Blair at FIAC. Right: Shantal Menéndez Argüello, Lawrence van Hagen, Susanne van Hagen, and Bellas Artes Projects' Jam Acuzar.

Left: Designer Isabel Marant with Jeu de Paume's Anne Racine. Right: High Art's Romain Chenais, Jason Hwang and Philippe Joppin with artist Aaron Garber-Maikovska at Paris Internationale.

Left: motherstankstations's David Godbold and Finola Jones at Paris Internationale. Right: Paris Internationale co-director Clément Delépine.

Left: Artists Ingar Dragset and Michael Elmgreen at FIAC. Right: Curator Georges Didi-Huberman with artist Enrique Ramírez at Hôtel de Talleyrand. (All photos: Kate Sutton)

Left: Artist Julie Beaufils with dealer François Ghebaly. Right: Croy Nielsen's Henrikke Nielsen at Paris Internationale.

Left: Dealer Aslı Sümer and artist Fayçal Baghriche. Right: Dealer Édouard Montassut at Paris Internationale.

Left: Dealer Jessica Silverman at FIAC. Right: Dealer Joseph Tang at Paris Internationale.

Left: Dealers Edouard and Lorraine Malingue at FIAC. Right: Frieze Art Fair director Victoria Siddall with artist Nicolas Party at Paris Internationale.

Left: Giò Marconi's Esther Quiroga at FIAC. Right: LamdaLamdaLamda's Isabella Ritter and Kathi Schendl at Paris Internationale.

Left: Antoine Levi and Nerina Ciaccia at Paris Internationale. Right: Artist Will Benedict with curator Tenzing Barshee.

Left: Artist Adrien Missika with Proyectos Monclova's Polina Stroganova . Right: What Pipeline's Alivia Zivich with artist Henning Bohl.

Left: Artist Alexander May and Balice Hertling's Alexander Hertling. Right: Artist Basim Magdy at Jeu de Paume.

Left: Collectors Eva Ruiz and Alain Servais at FIAC. Right: Artist Cédric Rivrain with Queer Thoughts's Sam Lipp and Luis Miguel Bendaña, and Misako & Rosen's Jeffrey Rosen at Paris Internationale.