L’état du ciel — Troisième partie


Drawing, film, new media, painting...

L’état du ciel
Troisième partie

Past: June 6 → September 7, 2014

Ed Atkins


Through videos, installations, texts and drawings, Ed Atkins (b. 1982, lives and works in London) has developed an extremely singular body of work where certain paradoxes of our time are performed and critiqued.

How might one manage to apprehend the essence of things, the emotional interiority of beings — those intangible aspects of our lives — through matter, through our bodies? Underpinned by writing that confuses signs, references and sources — where image and language intertwine and one cannot be sure whether to look or to read — the artist makes work that performs a powerful travesty of our self-image. Ed Atkins is interested in returning the matter that eludes the embodiment of oneself so often kept beyond availability. Citing writers and thinkers from Maurice Blanchot to Catherine Malabou, themes of disappearance, immanence and embodiment are recurrent in Atkins’œuvre — personified in the figure of the cadaver, performing as both dramatis personae and mortal limit.

Palais de tokyo ed atkins us dead talk love 2012 medium
Ed Atkins, Us Dead Talk Love, 2012 Courtesy of the artist & Cabinet, Londres & Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin

Fundamental questions around what we can see, touch and represent are rehearsed through specific contingencies of now. Through High Definition video, Computer Generated Imagery and surround sound, the artist plunges us into a digital imagery that aims to imitate the material world to such a degree as to radically disturb our relationship to the world and how it might be represented. Through myriad cinematic tropes — blurring, lens-flares, scratches, immersive sound, color and ferocious editing — the artist composes a visceral and organic work, where each video establishes its own body as a point of reflection; a point of empathy and surrogacy for the audience.

For his first exhibition in France, Ed Atkins presents Ribbons (2014), a monumental three-channel High Definition video installation whose soundtrack invades the entire exhibition space. The protagonist’s speech, which oscillates between lamentation, self-loathing and desperate plea, enters into a rhythm with the video’s entire structure; a place where his phantasmatic thoughts drift and echo within a continuous flux of image, text and music. Delirious, possessed and monstrous, the figure is “under influence,” defined by external control: alcohol, social consensuses, mores, the haunted digital medium and the artist himself. At the center of the work lies a primary question regarding self-representation, of an internal slipperiness of being, of doubt, that the artist performs—makes literal—through the use and misuse of digital technologies; magical, paradoxical forms that loiter between this world and another, between the materiality of bodies and that ungraspable immaterial.

All That Falls — Attention à la chute

Curators : Marie de Brugerolle & Gérard Wajcman

From the Berlin Wall to the Twin Towers, the 21st century was born out of falls. Traumatic or liberating, real or metaphorical, between crises, crashes, tsunamis, regime dismantling and bungee jumping; falling is the trend these days.

But what goes down is not always bad.

Among the first in line to fall upon our heads are objects. If in days of old “the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt” then the downpour of objects descending upon our world is our modern plague. Enjoy! Such is the byword of our times. Not so cheerful as all that. The objects supposed to satisfy our desires have enslaved us in the end. From medicine to portable phones, everything has taken an addictive turn. And by falling to the level of merchandise, objects have lost some of their dignity. Nonetheless, falling is not just depressing or disastrous.

In the midst of tragedy, lightning bolts of truth may also come down upon us: when illusions fall away. With the Berlin Wall or the towers of the World Trade Center, we watched the ideologies and baleful beliefs of a century crumble to dust, along with all the illusions of the future. There are falls that, like curtains, reveal and open our eyes.

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Dominique Ghesquière, Terre de profondeur, 2013 Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Chez Valentin, Paris — Photo © Aurélien Mole

In art, things are falling too. For some time now, the sublime has had its wings clipped. It seems to have taken a nosedive from Parnassus to jumble sales to the ground. The tough laws of gravity governing our world have entered the museums. Art shows us this fall and that the world’s axis has shifted. In the past, one went to the museum to find solace from the world’s hardships in the heights of art. Now art is directed towards the ground, the gaze has been lowered — yet without abasing itself. Taking on gravity, our value system has been overthrown.

We are shifting from the symbol to the thing, the spirit to matter, the soul to the body, the whole to the fragment, treasure to waste, the monument to a pile, fantasy to reality. The works of today’s great artists are not sublime; they are symptoms, revealing of a civilization where things are falling. They are said to be disquieting. Therein lies their grandeur. Art tends to open breaches in the real, discreet yet effective. This is a moment in time when art is invested with purpose. We would need to conceive of the sublime for rainy days.

It is art’s power these days to epiphanize the real, its importance not only aesthetic or in its truth, but also political. By opening onto the discontent in civilization, art organizes the resistance and invites each of us to join in, making the eyewitnesses that we are question our steadiness in a world that pitches and dodges. As a means of helping us avoid the crash. In the end, art keeps itself grounded the way we keep our right up: in one joyous fall.

With : Ronald Amstutz, Vasco Araújo, Julien Bismuth, Jean-Pascal Flavien, Dominique Ghesquière, Lola Gonzàlez, Camille Henrot, Willy Kautz, Agnieszka Kurant, Julie Legrand, Urs Lüthi, Michael C. McMillen, Steve McQueen, Philip Metz, Deimantas Narkevicius, Tony Oursler, Daniel Pommereulle, Benoit Pype, Delphine Reist, Lili Reynaud Dewar, Jimmy Robert, Miri Segal, Pablo Vargas Lugo. Et avec la participation de : Felix Baumgartner.

100 ans plus tard

Le Pavillon Neuflize 0BC

In the 15th century, the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa ordered the construction of the Jisho-ji or Ginkaku-ji (temple of the silver pavilion) in Kyoto as a reply to the Rokuon-ji or Kinkaku-ji (temple of the golden pavilion), where Ashikaga Yoshimitsu’s grandfather resided. The war of Onin (1467 — 1477) put a stop to the construction and the pavilion never received its silver-leaf coating.

Thus escaping ostentation, the Ginkaku-ji became a symbol of Japanese refined sobriety. Abandoning political and military affairs to dedicate himself to learning and to the Arts, Ashikaga Yoshimasa withdrew to his pavilion where he established the fundaments of the Japanese traditional culture of Higashiyama, greatly influenced by Zen Buddhism: ikebana or the “way of flowers,” the way of tea and incense, waka and renga poetry… In 2013, another pavilion — in Paris this time, belonging as it does to the Palais de Tokyo’s creative laboratory — invited Shuho, ikebana master and head of the Ginkaku Jisho-ji Kenshu Dojo, to propose a series of meetings in France and Japan bringing together traditional practices and the contemporary arts.

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Sophie Bonnet-Pourpet, Éventail avec rigole pour pleurer à deux en Égypte (série des Problèmes existentiels), 2013 Courtesy of the artist & Palais de Tokyo, Paris

The exhibition 100 ans plus tard [100 Years Later] is the result of these exchanges of individual and collective knowledge between Shuho and the residents of the Pavillon Neuflize OBC, through the display of the circulation, transmission and appropriation processes of cultural elements. Over the course of this learning process, ikebana — an art form based on floral composition — became the common experimenting ground on which mutual translation procedures were tested out — between languages, geographic and cultural zones, and between periods and practices — as a means of bypassing the exotic approach, from one pavilion to another.

The definition of a space, symbolized by the importance given to the vase in ikebana, has become one of the central elements of this collective experience. The vase is the tool of transmission and negotiation between the inside and the outside, between states (solid, liquid, gaseous) and between the elements of the composition.

“In ikebana,” says Master Shuho, “when we gaze at a composition, we must pay attention to the mizugiwa [the edge of the water].” The exhibition is a container in which the artworks are reflected — a puddle of water in which, 100 years later, the forgotten memories of gestures, opinions and objects will still shimmer.

With : Lucas Biberson & Guillaume Henry, Sophie Bonnet-Pourpet, Rebecca Digne, Elke Marhöfer & Mikhail Lylov, Sébastien Martinez Barat, Karin Schlageter, Clémence Seilles, Chai Siris, Antonio Vega Macotela, Yonatan Vinitsky & Shuhô.

Eduardo Basualdo

Teoría (La cabeza de Goliath)

The works of Eduardo Basualdo (b. 1977, lives and works in Buenos Aires) plunge us into a world of strange familiarity, inspired by natural phenomenon and forces at work in our environment. Greatly influenced by the study of literature, theatre and psychoanalysis, the artist puts into perspective Man’s place, his irreversible submission and his potential emancipation from universal forces that evade his control. What are our resources in the face of life and nature’s mysterious energies if not our consciousnesses and illusions that remain fragile but fundamental?

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Eduardo Basualdo, The End of Ending, 2012 Vue de l’installation, PSM, Berlin Courtesy of the artist & PSM, Berlin

“I return to the notion of man at the center of the universe like a lucid eye, capable of seeing everything but incapable of understanding or changing anything. In my work, man always appears as a victim of overwhelming circumstances”

— Eduardo Basualdo

The surprising and compelling work Teoría (La cabeza de Goliath) (2014) that recalls the shape of a meteorite, dominates and threatens the viewer with its mysterious and disproportionate mass whose interiority and origin remain unreachable and unrecognizable. The idea is to experience the mystery of this form that dominates our bodies and minds, eliciting doubt and arousing questions. Dramatic and oneiric, Teoría encourages both contemplation and fear towards the unknown towering over us, superior to our existences. Hanging only by a fine rope, the work evokes a fragile balance that can be easily broken, often referred to in mythological narratives. It could thus fall down on mankind according to the irreversible laws of gravity.

Michaela Eichwald

Lauréate du prix Lafayette 2012

Operating in a realm bordering on the underground, Michaela Eichwald is developing a multifarious body of work that associates her artistic practice and writing. Her paintings, collages and sculptures in various formats and created using an array of materials (paper, fabric, objects, etc.) form larger groups in which each piece exists in its own right. By superimposing layers of paint and covering surfaces in resin and varnish, the artist summons the materials and engages in a process where her own subjectivity is in a permanent dialogue with experimentation.

The forms she creates are the result of emotional states, of particular moments but also phases where words take part in the artwork’s elaboration through writing and poetry. On her blog, uhutrust.com, the artist gives a daily account of her wanderings, thoughts, observations and reactions to current events. On it she publishes photos she’s taken or that she’s found online. She sometimes describes the steps in the work she is momentarily involved with. Like a logbook to be publicly shared, uhutrust.com attests the artist’s view of the world.

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Michaela Eichwald, Kultur der Abgewandtheit (Culture de l’aliénation), 2013 Vue de l’exposition « Ergriffenes Dasein », Reena Spaulings Fine Art (New York), 2013 Courtesy of the artist & Reena Spaulings Fine Art, New York — © ADAGP

Michaela Eichwald is engaged in a reflection on the art world and its workings. How can an artist exist and live? How can one create and produce, and in what conditions? For her, moments of creativity are the result of a particular situation and context such as, for example, the availability of a workspace or the outcome of an intellectual discussion.

It’s a sum of factors that must be reinvented case by case, precipitating the necessary alchemy for the artwork to be made. For her exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, the artist has created new pieces in which she explores, the moment, the white page represented by the few weeks leading up to the exhibition, free from any constraint.

Les modules — Fondation Pierre Bergé — Yves Saint Laurent

Charbel-Joseph H. Boutros & Alessandro Piangiamore
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Alessandro Piangiamore, If the Earth is heavy, 2011 Courtesy of the artist & Magazzino, Rome
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