78 rue des Amandiers
May 11 - June 15
The latest addition to Parisian project space Shanaynay’s innovative exhibition program, “The Lie and the Powerpoint” stages a unique encounter between the art of Liam Gillick, Benoît Maire, and Falke Pisano. Rather than presenting three separate works on a common theme, it amalgamates the three participants’ ideas and intentions into a single piece. Like these artists’ previous cooperative endeavors—whether with other practitioners or each other—it implies the relinquishment of individual authorship and expression, while confirming that collaboration has become, as critic Godfrey Worsdale has pointed out, a kind of pseudomedium, alongside performance and installation.
Echoing the three artists’ shared interest in the written word, the work itself revolves around a text delivered as a PowerPoint presentation. Ringtones issuing from a speaker announce, muezzin-like, the start of the presentation, inviting visitors to gather round. An illustration projected on the ceiling simultaneously with the sounds references Edward Lear’s nonsense poem “The Owl and the Pussycat”—a title that resonates with that of the exhibition, suggesting that the text to follow will be of similar tenor. Consisting of a dialogue between two anonymous characters—the first of whom expresses himself in bold and the second in a regular typeface—the text reveals itself to be peppered with typos, non sequiturs, and contradictions. The fact that the statements in bold are as confusing as the rest of the text questions the implicit authority of bold over regular typefaces. Meanwhile, the nonsensical nature of the dialogue as a whole undermines the credibility of the PowerPoint itself—by showing it up as a medium that peddles fictions as truths. Trenchant and to the point, “The Lie and the Powerpoint” also evacuates such superfluous considerations as who did what and why. Instead it invites the viewer to judge the work on show on its own merits—without doubt the most important question of all.