Critics’ Picks

Installation view, 2006.

Installation view, 2006.

Paris

Ian Anüll

Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris
38, rue des Francs-Bourgeois
January 22–March 26, 2006

Ian Anüll's serigraph When R Died, 1999, which tells the story of a collector seeking to capitalize on an artist friend's death, introduces this exhibition with a sardonic expression of frustration, concluding: “I can't stand the idea of people trafficking on the death of a painter, so I made him a price for R dead, not R alive.” The show, accompanied by a program of Anüll's short, highly voyeuristic films of urban life (looped on bulky television monitors in supermarket trolleys), argues against the existence of truly “found objects.” Leaning against one wall is Carton Collection, 1985/1990, fifteen pieces of cardboard stamped with symbols of manufacture and sale, while Sucre et Sel (Sugar and Salt), 1991, cynically displays the basic staples of salt and sugar in gold frames. Everything seems to quickly assume a price and a copyright imprint, directly engaging themes of consumption and fair trade. Challenging branded nationalism, Anüll hijacks the USA's trademark colors in Tricolore, 1990–97, painting a broom, an inflatable cushion, and a portrait of Lenin with stars and stripes.

The immediacy of Anüll's Out of a Box, 1995, a film of two very young street children passively waiting among cardboard boxes and trash, thwarts Conceptual art's opportunity for philosophical escape; the compelling urgency of the film's subject leaves little time to linger on the significance of transposing everyday found objects to the white cube. As in Sucre et Sel, here too the frame assumes added significance: The film's desperate scenes play out on a heavy television monitor placed inside a tattered carton. With these simple movies and constructions, Anüll uses art as a means to demand political awareness and social responsibility.