PRINT December 2015

Stéphanie Moisdon

Anne Imhof, DEAL, 2015. Performance view, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, April 11, 2015. Photo: James Cheng Tan.

1 DOMINIQUE GONZALEZ-FOERSTER (CENTRE POMPIDOU, PARIS; CURATED BY EMMA LAVIGNE) One could almost think that the format of the retrospective was invented for Gonzalez-Foerster, whose entire oeuvre since the early 1990s concerns time and its unraveling. A vertiginous, biographical landscape inhabited by the partial recollection of works and the memory of viewers, “1887–2058” was both the title and hypothetical time span of this collective adventure and major event.

2 “SADE: ATTAQUER LE SOLEIL” (SADE: ATTACKING THE SUN) (MUSÉE D’ORSAY, PARIS; CURATED BY ANNIE LE BRUN AND LAURENCE DES CARS) Representations of agony, flagellation, and flaying are all too brutally topical today: If Sade’s time was not ready to accept the ferocity of his thinking, ours has exceeded his monstrous hypotheses. This courageous exhibition, incandescent and uncensored (!), was nourished by numerous masterpieces (by Géricault, Goya, Félicien Rops, Ingres, and Rodin, among others) and benefited from the fine analysis of Le Brun, who finds in the pivotal, haunted Gesamtkunstwerk of Sade an irreducible awareness of love and the infinite amid the terror.

3 CEMETERY OF SPLENDOUR (APICHATPONG WEERASETHAKUL) The artist and filmmaker’s most recent film is a perfect reflection of its title, showing the ruins of a cinema that can no longer dream or reinvent itself, but also those of a Thai society struck with narcolepsy and asphyxiated by the military junta. Somewhere between magical realism and political satire, myth and documentary, this gentle and droll masterpiece is kinesthetic and therapeutic.

4 ANNE IMHOF, DEAL (PALAIS DE TOKYO, PARIS; APRIL 11–12) Amid the current flood of performance work, Anne Imhof’s pieces are distinguished by their powerful distortion of temporal experience. (Also setting her apart: She has just won the prestigious young artist’s prize from the Nationalgalerie in Berlin.) DEAL transforms quotidian exchanges into strange rituals and secret ceremonies. Collapsing time into an abstract material of infinite variation and character, Imhof questions the nature of lived duration by opening a speculative field that radically diverts the very foundations of performance: expressivity, interaction, identification.

5 STURTEVANT, THE HOUSE OF HORRORS (MUSÉE D’ART MODERNE DE LA VILLE DE PARIS) This haunted house is the final major installation Sturtevant realized before her death in 2014. At once monumental and jubilatory, it now belongs to the museum’s permanent collection, thanks to the artist, and curator Anne Dressen. Mixing clichés of the genre (skeletons and bats), figures inspired by other artists (Paul McCarthy), and icons of American culture and counterculture (Frankenstein and Divine), Sturtevant plays with simulacra and fear, turning a fairground attraction into a staggering encapsulation of the contemporary condition.

Gisèle Vienne, THIS IS HOW YOU WILL DISAPPEAR, 2010. Rehearsal view, Festival d’Avignon, France, July 6, 2010. Photo: Mathilde Darel.

6 LAURENT BINET, LA SEPTIÈME FONCTION DU LANGAGE (THE SEVENTH FUNCTION OF LANGUAGE) (ÉDITIONS GRASSET) Who would have imagined that French theory would one day become the protagonist of a brilliant poststructuralist farce somewhere between Umberto Eco and Fight Club? Based on the zany conjecture that Roland Barthes was murdered, this epic and at times delirious story traverses intellectual debates of the 1980s, following the tribulations of Philippe Sollers, Julia Kristeva, Louis Althusser, Jacques Derrida, and John Searle; taking us with Judith Butler and Hélène Cixous to an orgy at Cornell University; and following Michel Foucault into a gay sauna. Binet’s brilliant comedy resurrects an old passion for semiology.

7 ALBERT OEHLEN (KUNSTHALLE ZÜRICH; CURATED BY DANIEL BAUMANN) My view of Oehlen’s oeuvre has never ceased to change. It fluctuates precisely because of his project itself, which alternates between certitude (he has always loved painting) and doubt (he never hesitates to test painting’s limits or to reject the power of its seduction). With new paintings hung alongside those from the 1980s, as well as wonderful collages and drawings, this exhibition was noteworthy for reveling in the artist’s contradictions, his energy and propensity for eliciting beauty from impurity, and the risk he takes in never being the sole author of his own work.

8 TRISHA DONNELLY (AIR DE PARIS, PARIS) Donnelly exhibitions are rare sightings. This installation of video, projection, sound, and drawing created the experience of an elliptical dérive through a world without references—only mirages, vibratile presences, indecipherable holograms—an emergence of forms as if prehistoric, solitary organisms. Beyond its evident beauty, her unique approach always raises fascinating questions about coding and language, memory and its effacement.

9 MÉLANIE MATRANGA (KARMA INTERNATIONAL, ZURICH, AND PALAIS DE TOKYO, PARIS; CURATED BY THOMAS BOUTOUX AND BENJAMIN THOREL) Looking at Matranga’s installations, one can’t help but think of the anonymous collective Tiqqun’s literary sensation Premiers matériaux pour une théorie de la jeune-fille (Raw Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl, 1999). The Young-Girl is an invention of capitalism, destined to promote an ideal of life revolving around market value: dressing, seducing, buying, and being bought. Matranga’s domestic environments—with their social and erotic spaces of transformed furniture and functionless objects—translate, with a certain humor, an ambiguous and sometimes awkward relationship to the clichés of cool, liberal, narcissistic youth.

10 GISÈLE VIENNE, THIS IS HOW YOU WILL DISAPPEAR, 2010 (NANTERRE-AMANDIERS, FRANCE, MARCH 31–APRIL 5) For a decade, Vienne has been subtly distancing herself from the production of live spectacle. Because she’s not working with any fixed genre—not even the language of theater—her pieces emanate a sense of indeterminacy. But what’s striking about this work is its dramaturgical impact: In the thick of a fairy-tale forest, images emerge from a veritable machinery of desire. One thinks of the erotic morbidity of Georges Bataille’s writing or Hans Bellmer’s dismembered dolls, but especially of the influence of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s texts and those of Dennis Cooper—the writer with whom Vienne has been collaborating from the start.

Translated from French by Molly Stevens.

Stéphanie Moisdon is a codirector of Le Consortium, Dijon; head of the master of fine arts at École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne; and a co-publisher of the art magazine Frog. She recently curated “Sturtevant Sturtevant” at Museo MADRE, Naples; “1984–1999: La Décennie” at the Centre Pompidou-Metz; and solo exhibitions of Willem de Rooij, John M. Armleder, and Richard Hawkins at Le Consortium.