Repartir à zéro

Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

IN A DARKENED AND CONFINING antechamber at Lyon’s Musée des Beaux-Arts, two videos set the tone for what was to come: On a screen to the left, a mushroom cloud silently unfurled over Nagasaki; on the right played an excerpt from Roberto Rossellini’s Germania anno zero (1948) in which a blond boy wanders in Berlin’s postwar rubble, picking up a piece of debris, distractedly pointing it like a pistol at his own head, and then throwing it like a grenade into the window of a neighboring ruin. Both clips ran as short loops (just a few minutes each) and without sound, producing a hypnotic repetitiveness reminiscent of a traumatic symptom, a memory that digs in and curls itself around the psyche. Such was the unrelenting desolation by which and against which art would recount the story of its own beginning, according to the exhibition “Repartir à zéro, comme si la peinture n’avait jamais existé.

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