Risqué Business

Nicolas Trembley on Gelitin and Paola Pivi at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin


Left: Pompidou curator Christine Macel with Emmanuel Perrotin. Right: Artist Paola Pivi.

Excitement and excessive eroticism are generally what one expects from a Gelitin opening. But on Saturday night, competition in the Marais neighborhood of Paris was fierce, as the Gay Pride paraders flocked to the Bastille, just blocks from Emmanuel Perrotin Gallery. It was just like the good old days as half-naked celebrants chanted and waved placards reading “Trannies, dykes, pervs—we’re all wannabe sluts and proud of it!” and “Sodomy and fist fucking opens your mind.” When I related the latter slogan, Paola Pivi, who was exhibiting alongside the four-member Austrian collective, replied, “It has to be true!” The performance she orchestrated for the opening wasn’t quite as no-holds-barred, but certainly had its own risqué touch.

The almost-bare gallery and sumptuous adjoining garden were turned into a sort of petting zoo by a monochrome “living sculpture” that consisted of a herd of white animals. The public could walk among horses, fowl, goats, sheep, and albino guinea pigs that urinated and defecated freely on the gallery’s immaculate floor. When I asked why she chose colorless animals, Pivi admitted that she wasn’t sure yet, but suggested it might be a reference to the white race. I told her I was surprised she didn’t bring any polar bears, since she spends a good deal of time in Alaska. “The only one I found was stuffed,” she responded, “and I photographed it with the other animals, who got very nervous.”

Left: Gelitin's Florian Reither. Right: Paris celebrates Gay Pride.

Gelitin member Florian Reither and I discussed the incredible stunt Jean-Luc Godard had managed to pull off at the Centre Georges Pompidou with his non-exhibition. After having postponed his retrospective several times, Godard fired curator Dominique Païni and worked exclusively with the museum’s administrator. The director forced the institution to include a wall text explaining that the actual exhibition—scaffolding piled on the floor, blank plasma screens—was not the one he planned due to artistic, technical, and financial difficulties. Reither explained that the show is of particular interest because the huge collage painting included in the Perrotin exhibition was actually made up of pictures from a scatological performance intended for last year’s “Dionysiac” exhibition at the Pompidou, but staged in the gallery after administrative red tape made it impossible to enact at the museum. In order to better observe the piece’s details, guests were invited to sit on makeshift benches adorned with big whoopee cushions straight from the novelty shop. The prolonged farting noise was particularly embarrassing for classy ladies more accustomed to purely conversational hot air.

By the gallery’s entrance, Gelitin had erected a sculpture of an upside-down man bent double. Gallons of dark chocolate were streaming in a closed circuit from the figure’s anus to his mouth, by way of an enormous pair of testicles under which the public could dip fresh strawberries. “How delicious!” exclaimed the woman next to me.

Left: Designer Vanessa Bruno. Right: Artist Christophe Brunnquell with Yasmine Eslami.

As I headed towards the garden where Perrotin artist Jean-Michel Othoniel’s sculptures have pride of place, I ran into Catherine Grenier, yesterday’s favorite to become the new director at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume. (It seems now that she will be passed in the final sprint by Fundación la Caixa’s Marta Gili.) I bumped into designer Vanessa Bruno, painter Jim Meyerson (who recently settled in Paris), critic Jeff Rian, choreographer Jennifer Lacey, fashion stylist Yasmine Eslami, and Christophe Brunnquell, who has just joined the gallery movie producer Claude Berri will soon open. Christine Macel from the Centre Pompidou was giving me the latest news concerning who’ll be the new head of the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (it’s now between Christian Bernard or Bernard Blistène), but by this point all anyone wanted to do was to sprawl on the giant white sofa in the garden. Everyone seemed content to heed the statement Pivi had chosen for the title of her show: “No problem, have a nice day.”

Left: Paola Pivi's sheep. Right: Gelitin's Ali Janka.

Left: Artist Jin Meyerson. Right: The crowd at Emmanuel Perrotin.

Left: Critic Jeff Rian. Right: Choreographer Jennifer Lacey with Gelitin's Tobias Urban.

Left: Emmanuel Perrotin's Jean Olivier Després. Right: Gelitin's Wolfgang Gantner.

Left: Kolkoz's Samuel Boutruche. Right: Kolkoz's Benjamin Moreau.