“France”

Eduardo Kac, towards an anti-gravitational culture

At a time when Elon Musk is eyeing a billion-dollar project to send humans to colonise Mars, others are investigating the same question… with a piece of paper and a pair of scissors. With his Inner Telescope, Eduardo Kac has given birth to the first extraterrestrial artwork, in collaboration with French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.   The work in question has no top or bottom, no front or back. It’s an object that reproduces and interweaves the three letters of the word moi (“me” or “myself” in French). A poem, an object to read and observe from no one single viewpoint. Made up of two sheets of paper and several cut-out shapes, Moi started its levitation in space during Thomas Pesquet’s inaugural performance, in April 2017. Its design is simple as economy of means was a critical factor for the European Space Agency’s Proxima mission, with the artist’s challenge being to develop a project by using materials readily available at the space station. The shape taken by the word moi recalls that of the space vessel itself, its tube suggesting the modules while its flat surface echoes the solar panels. At the Galerie Charlot, an exhibition presenting the project in July 2017 offered a mix of mediums: there were several editions of Moi in paper, a first-person video at the GoPro, presenting the performance, the object’s levitation, with a superb shot of Moi floating in front of three windows that offered a glimpse of the blue planet, and Thomas Pesquet’s hands, as well as drawings and embroideries, photos of the first tests, and artist’s books following the project. A zero-gravity interview…   The roots of Inner Telescope can be traced far back in your work. Can you tell us about its origins? The project began in 2007, but its roots...

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A new tribute to Jean Rouch

A prolific man, Jean Rouch directed more than 180 films. He was also well versed in poetry and ethnology. Today, several institutions are celebrating the centenary of his birth. In 1957, Jean Rouch released Moi, un Noir, a film shot in pre-independence Cote d’Ivoire, which followed the daily lives of three Nigerian migrants. When the film came out, Jean-Luc Godard wrote three articles about the director and hailed him as the “free man” that he was: “the title on Jean Rouch’s calling card says it all: researcher for the Musée de l’Homme, the Museum of Man. Could a finer definition exist for the filmmaker?” Several years later, in 1960, Godard even contemplated titling his first feature film Moi, un Blanc — which posterity would come to know as À bout de souffle. Going back to Rouch, this filmmaker discovered Niger at the age of twenty-five, and fervently explored its capital, Niamey, before pushing the doors of Africa open wider. As a connoisseur of the continent, this “free man” produced work that stands out for its handling of Africa, taking an approach that was not only ethnographic, but also aesthetic, political and poetic. Back to the Source of Inspiration, Niger Jean Rouch was born in 1917 in Paris. His explorer father transmitted to him a taste for travel very early on. He had a happy childhood in Rochefort until World War II broke out. In 1942, as a bridge and road engineer, he was posted to Niger by France’s Vichy regime. In Niger, as his last wife Jocelyne Rouch recounts, “he attended a body purification ritual for people struck by lightning on a worksite. Deeply moved and touched, he immediately wanted to understand the ceremony that he had witnessed, as it opened up the gates of wonder to him. His...

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The Fondation Dapper opts for nomadism

The announcement of the Musée Dapper’s closure in May this year came as sad news. But the foundation suffers from no shortage of projects and intends to refocus on outside-the-walls initiatives. A meeting with its president, Christiane Falgayrettes-Leveau. After thirty years of activity and around fifty exhibitions on its counter, the Musée Dapper closed its doors permanently on 18 June this year. In the face of dropping visitor numbers and overly high operational costs, this private museum, well known for its collection of around 6,000 pieces — including 2,000 ancient works from Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean — was forced to shut. “Maintenance costs were too high, not to mention the cost of putting on exhibitions,” explains Christiane Falgayrettes-Leveau, president of the Fondation Dapper. “But the other reason, just as important, is that we wanted to renew ourselves.” The Fondation Dapper, which Christiane Falgayrettes-Leveau set up in 1983 with her husband Michel Leveau, who died in 2012, took on a museum structure in Paris from 1986 onwards. Here, it exhibited the collection that would raise its reputation and open up knowledge of Sub-Saharan cultural heritage to a wider public as yet unfamiliar with classic African arts. Leaving the townhouse that housed it on Avenue Victor-Hugo in 2000, the museum settled in a larger new space on Rue Paul Valéry in the 16th arrondissement in Paris to welcome exhibitions but also music, dance and even films. “With 1800 square metres including a performance room and an exhibition room, the building became very difficult to manage,” regrets Christiane Falgayrettes-Leveau. High maintenance fees, unsuitable building premises and visitor numbers stagnating at 60,000 per year caused the Dapper to fall victim to the syndrome afflicting private museums deprived of public subsidies that can only balance their figures by ticket sales and donations...

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The Dealers speak out

They’re the ones who murmur into the ears of collectors. Gallerists play a crucial role in the tribal-art economy. For this special issue, a number of them, each with their own specialities, have agreed to share their feelings on the sector. Confidences. At auctions, the eclectic nature of the tribal-art market indicates sure growth in the long term, both in terms of the number of lots placed on sale and their proceeds, even if the last three years have seen heavy fluctuations, if not a slight decline. However, by overshadowing the reality of the world of dealers, auction results are only a partial indicator of the health of a sector characterised by deep restructuring. Between a generational shift among collectors, sourcing difficulties, and a complex balance between auction houses and dealers, what does the future hold? Collectors: a new generation takes the reins? In the eyes of Alain Lecomte from the gallery Abla & Alain Lecomte, specialised in ancient African arts, there’s no doubt about it: the sector is in for a shakeup: “The tribal-art market is at its early stages; we are talking about a form of art that is still relatively unknown by the international market. Everything is yet to be achieved. The current market — more specifically, that of ancient African art, but in my opinion, the same goes for other forms of tribal art — is mainly made up of passionate enthusiasts, people who invest themselves, who read specialist books, who spend a great deal of time on the topic, without necessarily being very well off. These are sincere collectors, and their number is growing, both in Europe and in the United States. They need to hurry up and create their collections, because soon the African continent is going to wake up. We can see...

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Alex Arthur, Tribal Art and its market

What are the evolutions and limitations of the tribal-art market? How is it nurtured by the contributions of research and ethnology? Alex Arthur offers us a few indications… Alexander Arthur is a well-informed collector and a fine connoisseur of tribal arts. For over twenty years, he has been the publishing director of Tribal Art Magazine. In 2009, he also became involved, with Pierre Moos, in the management of Parcours des Mondes. You are one of the key protagonists of Parcours des Mondes. How have you seen the fair evolve? I actually participated in the very first Parcours so I remember well how it consisted of only a handful of galleries. But the concept was a good one and it grew rapidly into the world’s premier event. The event grew in quality as has the market overall and Parcours des Mondes has become the annual focal point for many galleries today, a situation that is reflected in the quality of many artworks on show and the number of thematic exhibitions. Tell us about vetting at the fair. Like other fields of art, forgeries will always be an issue, but as the market has evolved, so has the level of expertise. Most of the problem is solved by the fair’s selection of exhibitors. The exhibitors at Parcours are all professional and almost exclusively seasoned veterans who go to great lengths to avoid mistakes. The initial selection for the catalogue is open to all exhibitors and we collect and compare comments on these artworks. If a piece raises doubt, we replace it, whilst others may be replaced because they are deemed to be of insufficient quality. For the event itself, we have a knowledgeable committee that strolls around the galleries during setup and will let us know if they see a problem....

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