PRINT March 2011


A BOWLER HAT, a dressing table, a scrum of silver-painted shoes; a Roxy Music record, a movie poster, a school of carp in an indoor pond: Marc Camille Chaimowicz’s installations are spaces in which the cultural unconscious becomes, however fleetingly, an embodied reality. As viewers wander through the artist’s immersive amalgams of sounds, images, and objects, they may encounter the sheen of high-modernist design or the glitter of the 1970s London underground in which the artist began his career. Yet just as often, mirrored surfaces, pools of colored light, flickering projections, and murmuring sound tracks undermine coherent readings, while surface decoration threatens to swallow the whole. Within this exploded Gesamtkunstwerk, legibility dissolves into synesthetic scatter.

Dispersions and fusions likewise animate the seven collages on the pages that follow, which are part of a new body of work prompted by the writings of Jean Genet and debuting in April at the Gallery at Norwich University College of the Arts in the UK. Commissioned by the Norfolk & Norwich arts festival in association with Nottingham Contemporary—which will host an expanded version of the exhibition in July—the show will include works on paper, theatrical props, furniture, slide projections, documentation of an imaginary casting session for Genet’s 1947 play The Maids, and videos charting Chaimowicz’s pilgrimages to the author’s childhood home in Burgundy, France, and to his grave on the Moroccan coast. Genet relics will find their place among these materials, and, in keeping with Chaimowicz’s practice of inviting “guests” into his own exhibitions, the show’s expanded version in Nottingham will also play host to works by a number of other artists. Foremost among these is Alberto Giacometti, whom Genet, late in life, described as the only person he’d met for whom he had unreserved respect. Continuing the theme, a second section of the exhibition will be devoted to the political Genet. And as always, viewers will be enlisted as collaborators, both experiencing and contributing to the production of one of Chaimowicz’s dreamworlds.

Elizabeth Schambelan