Critics’ Picks

  • View of “Paradis,” 2021. Photo: Marie Angeletti.

    View of “Paradis,” 2021. Photo: Marie Angeletti.

    Marseille

    “Paradis”

    Maison R&C
    224 Rue Paradis
    August 29–October 25, 2021

    Marseille

    A recent union strike in Marseille meant that municipal garbage had not been picked up for over a week. The massive pile of trash blocking the entrance to what is usually an auction house on Rue de Paradis seemed, when I visited it, somehow telling of the exhibition inside: an accumulation of pure energy, the natural outcome of resistance to any ruling logic. Trés Marseillaise. Curated by artist Marie Angeletti and named for its street address, the group show “Paradis” offers a manic assemblage of all the art you ever liked. The fifty-two artists include younger talents like Olga Balema, Richard Sides, and Camilla Wills alongside more established names—Richard Hawkins, Henrik Olesen, Cathy Wilkes—as well as art-historical mainstays Sturtevant, Simone Forti, and John Miller. This unusual welding of magnitude and idiosyncrasy ended up highlighting the infrastructure of exhibition-making itself and the networks that tie people and art works together.

    While Olesen’s gory, exquisite paintings and Hawkins’s haunting collages conveyed a dense and thorny sense of interiority, several works—Without the scales, 2021, a reflective half globe by Angharad Williams; Yuki Kimura’s stainless-steel Mirror Ball, 2019; and Dan Graham’s Skateboard Pavilion, 1989, among them—gave form to a kind of pure exteriority, making for a literal and conceptual hall of mirrors. Far from your typical collection display, “Paradis” reproduced the chaos and compulsiveness at the heart of many of these art practices: an order of crazy that the works were not only able to survive but seemed to enjoy. 

     

  • View of Emeka Ogboh’s Migratory Notes, 2021, five-channel video, color, sound, 6 minutes 59 minutes.

    View of Emeka Ogboh’s Migratory Notes, 2021, five-channel video, color, sound, 6 minutes 59 minutes.

    Marseille

    Emeka Ogboh

    Fraeme
    La Friche la Belle de mai, 41 rue jobin
    June 4–October 24, 2021

    Known for works addressing community and migration through food, music, and video, Emeka Ogboh offers a multisensorial feast with “Stirring the Pot.” For Ámà 2.0, all works 2021, the artist arranged twelve speakers into a large circle, each speaker playing a different single voice performing the same Igbo folk song. From the room’s center, where large cushions covered in Akwete textiles beckon, the dozen voices merge into an immersive harmony. Walk right up to one speaker, however, and a unique voice breaks through and drowns out the rest. This interplay of solo and choral voices beautifully describes how individuals shape a community, and vice versa.

    Activating ears, eyes, and nose, the five-screen video Migratory Notes intercuts footage of bananas being packed and shipped to France from Cameroun and Ghana with street scenes and clips of food preparation in Marseille’s Noailles neighborhood, home to many North African and West African immigrants. To subtly enhance the visual journey of people and foodways, various scents including a mix of sea salt and petrol and African pepper soup spices are piped into the gallery.

    Finally, for tasting, Ogboh developed two craft beers specifically for the exhibition. Named for piquant seeds often used in Nigerian cooking, Uda and Uziza were made with French brewery Brasserie du Castellet. Bottles sold at a pop-up bar housed in a repurposed yellow danfo taxi imported from Lagos can be enjoyed onsite. A symbol of the urban hustle and bustle of his hometown, taxis have long inspired Ogboh (he brought one to the streets of New York City in 2014 and to Paris’s Palais de Tokyo in 2019). In Marseille, the danfo provides a natural gathering hub, a place to further stir the pot.