previews

  • “Rester Vivant”

    Palais de Tokyo
    13, Avenue du Président Wilson
    June 23 - September 11

    Curated by Jean de Loisy and Michel Houellebecq

    A dead poet no longer writes, which is why it’s important to stay alive. This simple working hypothesis was set out in Michel Houellebecq’s early essay “Rester vivant” (Stay Alive, 1991), and in a career that has made him more than just a writer, this volcanic figure has flirted with the negation of the claim again and again. He’s disappeared in real life, been kidnapped on the screen, and rubbed himself out in the 2010 novel The Map and the Territory. But he has also often threatened to disappear into other guises—filmmaker, photographer, poet. In “Rester vivant”—a kind of sequel to Palais shows dedicated to Raymond Roussel and John Giorno—Houellebecq now assumes the role of curator, organizing a large-scale exhibition comprising his own films, sound pieces, and more than one hundred photographs. A few Houellebecquian associates (including the painter Robert Combas) are on hand, but the spotlight is on the unique mindscape of Houellebecq—a fascinating, terrifying, and, yes, funny place to be.

  • Page from Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs’s The Third Mind, ca. 1965, gelatin silver prints, typescript, newsprint, and ink on paper, 9 3/8 × 6 3/4". From “Beat Generation.” © Williams S. Burroughs Estate.

    “Beat Generation”

    Centre Pompidou
    Place Georges-Pompidou
    June 22 - October 3

    Curated by Jean-Jacques Lebel, Philippe-Alain Michaud, and Rani Singh

    Focusing on Paris as a port of call for members of the essentially nomadic Beat movement, curators Michaud, Singh, and Fluxus artist Lebel will map the productions of the dispersed pantheon of doomed drifters across the French capital, New York, San Francisco, Mexico, and Tangier, Morocco. Set to offer a balanced view of a milieu that was chauvinistic even by the standards of midcentury bohemianism, the show will notably include a host of Beat women, including Joanne Kyger and Diane di Prima, along with the alpha males. “Beat Generation” will not entirely depart from our posthumanist zeitgeist. The show will take a media-archaeological approach, arguing—via some four hundred rare books, manuscripts, photographs, paintings, films, and audio recordings by about fifty artists and writers—that Beat artistic production involved systematic use of such analog technologies as tape recorders, records, radio, and the telephone as a historical first. Truman Capote already noted this inclination toward new media in 1959 when he condemned Jack Kerouac’s On the Road as mere “typing.”