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Guest curators : Berdaguer and Péjus
For The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista (1), the Synagogue de Delme has joined forces with artistic duo Berdaguer and Péjus to conceive a group exhibition on ghosts, assembling some fifteen artists, designers and architects of all persuasions. The exhibition precedes Gue(ho)st House, a work of art by Berdaguer and Péjus commissioned in Delme by the French Ministry of Culture. The aim of this commission is to redevelop the area surrounding the art centre and create a visitor reception space (to be inaugurated: summer 2012).
In the exhibition The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista, the works serve as crossing points at the intersection of diverse temporalities, more or less recent pasts and evolving futures. They act as thresholds, doors to memories of other places from which our own ghosts emerge here and there. Whether in literature or in cinema, the contemporary imagination is overrun by ghosts, since every new technology brings its share of phantoms and irrationalities. It goes without saying that these figures - more or less shapeless, more or less visible, alternatively frightening and benevolent - lend themselves to fruitful images in which science and fiction intermingle and blur their respective limits.
When Designer Clino Castelli takes up the plans Wittgenstein drew up for his sister's house, he reveals vibrations in the air and invisible forces at play in the dwelling. Immaterial parameters also define architecture in François Roche's work, in what he calls "the architecture of moods". And in the work of designers Dunne and Raby, the moods of domestic objects come under consideration, through a series of robots with various psychologies. Anxiety, hyperactivity, a penchant for calm or an apparent weakness fill the space with diffuse feelings.
The works disappear, then surface on the walls. Or they constitute stratified excrescences, becoming something fleeting, made of dust, snatched from oblivion. In a video by Susan Hiller, dead or endangered languages murmur in a collection of worlds dying along with the languages that convey them. These voices from the beyond mingle with artistic and intellectual figures who have been resuscitated for the occasion: philosopher Antonio Gramsci in Peter Friedl's installation, psychographic medium Francisco Candido Xavier, whose incredible life is evoked by Tamar Guimaraes, and even photographer Walker Evans, whom Sherrie Levine rephotographs by creating a set of temporal strata and mises en abyme. Further along, a few cinematographic ghosts punctuate the exhibition through patches of phantasmagoria, which have served to animate images for popular spectacles since the seventeenth century.
Finally at the entrance, visitors are greeted by a Michel François work entitled Piece of Evidence, consisting of a completely shattered glass pavilion. Like a fractured dream, this mass of veined glass, alive and yet verging on collapse, acts as a prism at the heart of the exhibition: as if ideal transparency needed to be opposed to a more opaque vision and a few hiding places, a field open to uncertainty, in a perfectly charted, known world.
(1) The title of the exhibition is a reference the novel of the same name by J. G. Ballard; the author conjures up a strange city whose houses retain in memory the psychology of successive inhabitants. These houses continue to react and transform in line with their owners' affects, as if they were physical extensions of their moods.
In the 1990s, Ignasi Aballi diverted from painting as such to develop a more conceptual approach:
for example, he started painting along with the traces that light left on paper, abandoning traditional tools and means of representation. He suggests objects through traces and absence much more than through direct evocation.
He makes time tangible as well, as in Pols, the work presented in the exhibition, which consists of a permanent, thin layer of dust covering one of the synagogue’s windows. Volatile, ephemeral, invisible, the dust suddenly accumulates as if to solidify time, and render perception through the window permanently opaque.
Since the 1960s, Stanley Brouwn has rejected all forms of media coverage. There is no text, catalogue or interview, no image or representation of his works.
Though the radicalness of his approach might appear to reach the limits of evanescence, it belongs to a quite physical reality: it is the body and the artist himself that become units of measurement (the brouwn foot, the brouwn arm, the brouwn step...); what he calls “brouwn units” enable a tailor-made rethinking of space. His first works in the 1960s, entitled This Way Brouwn, consisted in asking passers-by to sketch him the route from one point to another. The subjective graphs he collected recreated the city from the perspective of each individual.
Stanley Brouwn casts doubt on the objectivity of units of measurement, which act as norms governing our understanding of the world. The work presented at the exhibition consists of two bars affixed along the floor and the wall of the synagogue, measuring one metre and one foot respectively, two standards... and already two ways of seeing the world.
In 1965, Daniel Buren systematised the use of a motif consisting of alternating white and coloured vertical stripes 8.7 cm wide. What he called a “visual tool” was also a way of critically examining museums and cultural institutions. In 1968, he turned to creating wild displays, sending sandwich men wandering the streets of Paris wearing striped panels, participating in the broader contemporary movement that aimed to take art out of museums and galleries. With his “cabanes éclatées” (“exploded cabins”), Buren developed voluminous work and questioned the relationship between art and architecture, in which space is fragmented and amplified. For over forty years, the artist has been using his stripes in all of the places where he exhibits.
In 1997 at the Synagogue de Delme, Daniel Buren conceived an exhibition entitled Glissement de la lumière sur la couleur, de la couleur dans la lumière, d’une couleur sur l’autre (The Sliding of Light on Colour, of Colour in Light, of One Colour on Another). The 2011 exhibition reveals a ghost of his past exhibition, kept buried in the building’s memory.
Clino Trini Castelli
A designer and theorist, Castelli was the first to consider the sensory environment and emotional identity of products. In 1961, after earning a degree in car design, he joined Fiat in Turin, then worked with Sottsass at Olivetti. From 1969 to 1973, he created the brand’s graphic identity. In 1974, through Castelli Design studio, he started developing new forms of industrial design. In 1978, he founded Colorterminal IVI, Europe’s first colour and design research centre. In 1999, he created the Trini Team, specialising in the visual communications field, while in 2000 he founded Qualistic Lab to develop the application of “emotional branding”, or the process of infusing products with their own personality and identity.
He collaborates with several international design journals and magazines and teaches in a number of schools and universities worldwide.
Gretel’s Soft Diagram is a drawing on loan from Clino Trini Castelli specially for the exhibition. Castelli reveals the “soft structures”, invisible drafts and energies at play in the house that philisopher Ludwig Wittgenstein built for his sister Margaret in 1927. The choice of the plans for the house built by the philosopher is not trivial, so much does the architectural gesture also constitute a genuine “work upon oneself”.
Born in 1944. Lives and works in Milan (Italy).
Delphine Coindet has been developing a unique work of sculpture with a play of colours, materials and shapes that distances it from the abstract, minimal trend with which it might be associated at first glance. Her sculptures, created with synthetic materials (resin, plexiglas…), have the smooth and perfectly finished look of computer-generated images. It is precisely this element of artifice that is the most enigmatic aspect of her work. Although her works could be suggestive of potentially functional design object prototypes, they remain permanently obscure, paradoxical and ambiguous, as the title of the work presented in the exhibition expresses in its own way: X.
A solo exhibition of Delphine Coindet’s work, New Barroco, was presented at the synagogue de Delme in 2003.
Born in 1969 in Albertville (France). Lives and works in Lausanne (Switzerland).
Represented by Evergreene gallery in Geneva (Switzerland), Anne Mosseri-Marlio Galerie in Zurich (Switzerland) and Laurent Godin in Paris.
Dunne & Raby
Dunne & Raby use design to stimulate exchanges and debates between designers, industry and the public, about the social, cultural and aesthetic implications of current and emerging technology. Several of their projects belong to collections at museums, such as the MOMA in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Frac Ile-de-France.
In 2001, they developed a series of objects entitled Placebo, whose familiar shapes scarcely concealed the vagueness of their function. These objects, which react to electromagnetic waves, seem to be developing a secret life and their own affects. The object prototypes presented at Delme belong to the series Technological Dreams. It consists of four domestic robots, each endowed with a specific psychology, anxiety, hyperactivity, a penchant for calm or an apparent weakness, capable of reinforcing its owner’s feeling of control.
Duo created in 1992, consisting of Anthony Dunne, designer, and Fiona Raby, architect. Live and work in London (United Kingdom).
The name Michel François immediately calls sculpture to mind, but sculpture that brings into play a variety of media and formats (video, installation, objects, drawings) and alludes to reality through clues more than through direct reference.
For example, among the artist’s numerous creations, we could cite: Psycho Jardins (Psycho Gardens), mental landscapes reconstituted from very real landscapes, transposed into the exhibition space by this artist who is curious about the world around him. Déjà-vu (hallu) is a video that amplifies the movement of crumpled aluminium foil, like a Rorschach test reconstructed in movement.
Over the past few years, Michel François has created several glass pavilions, like intaglio spaces, partially shattered or covered with modelling clay thrown on the surface, traces of violent gestures whose perpetrator remains invisible and absent. The pavilions convey the tension often at play in Michel François’s work, between order and chaos, monumentality and fragility. Piece of Evidence (Pièce à conviction) belongs to this series and consists of a pavilion that is entirely shattered, seemingly verging on collapse.
Michel François was born in 1956 in Saint-Trond (Belgium). He lives and works in Brussels (Belgium).
He is represented by Xavier Hufkens gallery in Brussels and Kamel Mennour gallery in Paris.
After following the theatrical avant-garde in the 1980s as an art critic, Peter Friedl became an artist himself in the 1990s, while continuing to produce numerous analytical and research texts that are integral to his practice, which is resolutely discursive and conceptual.
Peter Friedl is formally unclassifiable, but his work displays acute political engagement and consciousness, placing form at the service of a broader reflection on the nature of political and cultural hegemonies in contemporary society. They are the result of a deconstruction of the contexts in which he is inclined to work, and he pays special attention to what can be revealed by shapes or languages considered subaltern or minor.
The work presented at the exhibition is a tribute to Antonio Gramsci (1891 – 1937), an intellectual who was one of the founders of the Communist Party of Italy. He was imprisoned under the Mussolini regime and died a few days after his release. Peter Friedl is an attentive reader of Gramsci, who developed a theory of cultural hegemony as a means of maintaining the state in a capitalist society. The work is composed of a 1.51-metre-high stripe of aluminium paint, which runs along a whole section of an exhibition wall. This measurement was based on Gramsci’s height.
Born in 1960 in Oberneukirchen (Austria). Lives and works in Berlin (Germany) and New York (USA). Represented by Meyer Kainer gallery in Vienna (Austria).
Tamar Guimaraes works with images she created herself, but she also makes use of historical documents, public or private archives. She interweaves minor and major history, and sets out to illuminate certain zones of darkness in the official history. By design, the narratives she brings into play blur the line between documentary and fiction.
In the slideshow entitled A Man Called Love, Tamar Guimaraes evokes the life of Brazilian psychographic medium Chico Xavier (1910 – 2002). Under the influence and the dictation of a spirit, Xavier produced over 400 works of wisdom and spirituality. Tamar Guimaraes links this man’s immense popularity to the Brazilian political context of that time, implicitly connecting the development of spiritualism to the emergence of socialist utopias prior to the dictatorship that started spreading across the country in 1964.
Born in 1967 in Belo Horizonte (Brazil). Lives and works in Copenhagen (Denmark). Represented by David Risley gallery in Denmark and Fortes Vilaça gallery in Sao Paulo (Brazil).
Susan Hiller is an important figure on the English art scene. Her work explores individual and collective memory, the question of testimony, dreams, ancient myths and rituals, our relationship to unconsciousness and irrationality, all of which she views as so many tools for knowing and understanding the world. These videos, installations, photographs and sound pieces draw on popular culture or culture that is much further removed from our usual reference fields. Automatic writing, dream analysis, electronic voice phenomena and aura photography permeate her works, which aim to make perceptible the invisible, the inaudible and the periphery of common perception.
The film The Last Silent Movie (2009) gives voice to a succession of extinct or endangered languages. All that remain are sound recordings collected from the four corners of the planet, the fragile memories of a vanished world.
Alongside artists like Barbara Kruger and Richard Prince, Sherrie Levine belongs to the “appropriationist” movement that developed in the 1970s in the United States. She challenges the foundations of modern art—its pursuit of the avant-garde, originality and uniqueness—by creating copies and reproductions of 20th century works, such as paintings by Cézanne, photographs of Man Ray or even collages by Matisse.
In the series After Walker Evans, which helped bring recognition to her work, Sherrie Levine identically rephotographs images by Evans, who was famous for capturing rural America during the Great Depression.
Born in 1947 in Hazelton (USA). Lives and works in New York (USA). Represented by Simon Lee Gallery in London, and Paula Cooper Gallery in New York.
Chloé Maillet and Louise Hervé
In 2001, Chloé Maillet and Louise Hervé created the I.I.I.I., International Institute for Important Items, with the goal of encouraging, defending and promoting literary, cinematographic, dramatic, ethical, philosophical and historiographical projects whose intellectual value has been underrated. To do this, they conceive educational performances, radio programs, books and medium-length films.
For The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista, they are presenting a performance that is also a foretaste of the solo exhibition the arts centre will be dedicating to them from March to May 2010. They confront science and parascience, conjurers and demonologists, while evoking the hypnosis and self-hypnosis used by the famous Dr. Coué.
Born in 1981. Live and work in Paris. Represented by Marcelle Alix gallery in Paris.
Architect, theorist and curator, Gianni Pettena was one of the advocates of radical Italian architecture in the 1960s and 1970s, challenging the foundations of architecture as they were being taught in schools at that time. Pettena’s practice is similar to certain artists like Gordon Matta-Clarck, who worked on condemned houses, by literally sculpting them and cutting shapes in them. He can also be likened to Robert Smithson, known for his work on landscapes and the principle of slow destruction, to which his works are doomed by the effect of nature.
In a way, Ice House 1, Minneapolis sits at the intersection of these practices. In 1971, Pettena completely covered a school building in water. This froze overnight and transformed into a monumental volume of ice; architecture became sculpture and united with the surrounding landscape. The photograph shown at the exhibition has preserved a trace of this performance.