Critics’ Picks

View of “A Wall of Sand Has Just Collapsed,” 2012–13.

View of “A Wall of Sand Has Just Collapsed,” 2012–13.


Virginie Yassef

La Galerie, Centre d’art contemporain de Noisy-le-Sec
1 rue Jean-Jaurès
December 1, 2012–February 9, 2013

Titles tend to be highly evocative in Virginie Yassef’s work, and this solo show is a case in point. “A Wall of Sand Has Just Collapsed” puts the visitor in a general state of expectancy, as if arriving after a disruptive event. Here, the artist seems to privilege a child’s view of the world. Every work in the exhibition has a wild, narrative quality that incites imaginative thinking. The Plank, 2012, is a polystyrene sculpture fabricated to look like a wooden beam from a cartoon (perhaps The Flintstones); it is suspended precariously from the ceiling and powered by a motor so that it turns, rather haltingly, overhead. In the adjacent gallery, Airing Grid, 2012, is a floor grid, also motored so that its metal slats flap, as if heavy winds were blowing out of the ground. These playful theatrical artifices gesture at everything from spoof paleontology to futurism. Take No one has ever seen a dog deliberately exchange a bone with another dog, 2012, an interior Yassef designed for her mutant theater production, which will be performed in January and continued in a second part at La Ferme du Buisson in Noisiel, France, this June. The title of her play takes on literal proportions in the 2009 video The Tree, which Yassef made in collaboration with Julien Prévieux; here Yassef and Prévieux hungrily bite into a log as if it were a bone. Throughout, each work seems a playful creative prompt, the exhibition an indelible expression of the artist’s fondness for the freedom of thought.