Critics’ Picks

View of “Les Possédé(e)s,” 2012.

Marseille

Les Possédé(e)s

Triangle France
41 rue Jobin 3rd Floor , La Tour Friche Belle de Mai
May 3 - June 2

The conceit of this motley group show is pretty elusive: to present works that may or may not transmit their authors’ intentions, of which said authors, incidentally, may or may not themselves be aware (hence the title: “The Possessed”). While this could potentially designate a particularly coy genus of neo-Conceptualism, in which, say, yet another receipt necessitates an elaborate explanation in order to be fathomed as a work of art, it does not. Rather, the curator of this show, Dorothée Dupuis, is interested in the irrational underpinnings of the art on display and the high ratio of interpretability that such underpinnings might yield. Given that the irrational is generally persona non grata in the hyperanalytical, concept-heavy French context, any embrace thereof is liable to seem novel, even radical, and therefore refreshing—even if their terms are not exactly radical, as in Jocelyn Villemont’s The Troublemakers, 2011. More of a metareflection on interpretability than an irruption of the irrational, this video installation depicts two adolescent skateboarders as they philosophically speculate with risible precocity on the nature and significance of a primitive-looking baseball bat. In contrast, the logic behind the inclusion of certain works, such as Tim Braden’s relatively straightforward, bright and washed-out figurative paintings, remains, at least for this writer, obscure, while the surrealistic wood and rope sculptures of Sophie Bueno-Boutellier, who is known to traffic in the mystical, seem a bit more at home in gray area sketched out here. Cécile Dauchez’s winsomely delicate photocopy prints, whose colorful surfaces have been manipulated into lyrically abstract unintelligibility, feel more willful in their rejection of intention. All that said, if the exhibition seems to occasionally and wistfully overdetermine the alleged ambiguity of its content, it nevertheless makes a compelling argument for what could be inelegantly characterized as the WTF factor—of which indeed, a certain baseline amount, even at the risk of incoherence, is indispensable to any artmaking enterprise.