“Shapeless assembly”, a new international trend

A new artistic scene is blooming, from New York to Berlin. And the works in question? Strange assemblies of heterogeneous materials, indistinct unstable sculptures, sometimes the fruit of joyful post-Duchamp bricolage. AMA has wondered why their reception is more subdued in France than elsewhere. A trend decoded. Coloured plastic drips and hangs from a piece of wood. Undefineable shapes from a mishmash of materials, punkish tubular creatures, newly obsolete machines hooked up to geometric structures… Perhaps you’ve already come across one of these creations at a young gallery or at a fair? What is it that you’re looking at? A history of our society, an encounter of different materials, or something else altogether? Does our proximity to the visual environment make it more difficult to find the distance needed to understand these works? Does the “newness” of these aesthetic forms disturb our habits? Like the Dadaists and the Fluxus movement, these artists escape from classifications for now. Their apparently incomprehensible works take on different shapes and develop a host of ideas, all the while referring to various artistic movements. Yet a number of common features helps us to grasp what is happening before us and to make out the outlines of a new artistic scene. Born in the 1980s, these artists belong to the same generation. As students in the mid-2000s, at a time when the Internet and globalisation were in full boom, they joined the working brigade in the midst of economic, social, ecological, political crisis… Their society is global and open, but also violent and dystopian. In their ambivalence, everything seems possible to them, but at the same time, nothing at all. Their productions resemble assemblies, associated – in the eyes of those of us who care to look – with the notions of heterogeneity, materiality, shapelessness....

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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.R. Penck, a man of openness

A.R. Penck passed away while the Fondation Maeght’s major retrospective on him was underway. A few days after the sad news, Suzanne Tarasiève gallery also opened an exhibition on the artist. Two paths for tracing the complexity of the work of A.R. Penck. A homage. A.R. Penck left this world on 2 May in Zurich at the age of 77 years. Symbolically, the exhibition being held on him at the Fondation Maeght is titled “A.R. Penck. Rites de passage”. This will therefore be the last retrospective to be organised on the artist during his lifetime, and also the first homage to be paid to him. Homage accompanied by the exhibition “À travers A.R. Penck” at Suzanne Tarasiève (Paris), which represents several big figures from German painting: Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz, Jörg Immendorff. Only Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter are absent from the list. A tumultuous life Ralf Winkler – this was the name he was born under – had a tumultuous life. He was born on 5 October 1939 in Dresden, in a Germany that would be designated as part of the “East” in 1949. Between 1956 and 1966, Ralf tried, unsuccessfully four times, to enter fine-arts schools in Dresden and East Berlin, even if he was not particularly troubled by this failure. He preferred contact with the “renegades” rather than the institutional painters – he would also be denied access to the Society of Artists of the German Democratic Republic. Already, in the middle of the 1960s, he adopted the pseudonym A.R. Penck for various reasons. Firstly, to pay homage to Albrecht Penck, a geologist specialising in the Ice Age. But above all, to get his works across the border more easily and to avoid censorship problems. The artist would take on other aliases: Tancred Michel or Théodor...

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Future\Pace: a new strategic partnership

Combining the gallery and curatorial expertise of Pace London, the cultural placemaking experience of Futurecity, and the collaborative energies of an international group of artists, the new strategic partnership Future\Pace offers a pioneering approach to commissioning art in the public realm.   We talk to Pace London President, Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, and Futurecity Founder, Mark Davy, to discuss the idea of a cultural city; learning to speak the language of developers; the economic benefits of collaboration; and a new breed of artist.   How did the partnership between Futurecity and Pace London come about? Mark Davy: Mollie and I met when I was working on strategy for the Crossrail Culture Line, which is matching six of the new London Crossrail stations with six leading galleries and six international artists. Although there’s a real appetite at the moment for artists to create large-scale interventions in urban settings, it’s actually quite difficult to get artists to work in this context. Either they don’t have the teams behind them or they are inside a gallery system, which can be hard because you need to work in a very collaborative, open-ended way. Mollie and I were interested in the idea of a new group which gave developers, city organisations and authorities the opportunity to take on artists who could do large-scale works, who could work in a multi-disciplinary set-up, collaborate (which is not always easy for artists!) and deliver. Futurecity has been working in this area for about ten years: for example, Mark Wallinger’s White Horse at Ebsfleet, or Slipstream with Richard Wilson at Heathrow. We provide support with the strategic, structural element of the job: the indemnities, the insurances, the contracts and the project management. Pace London has the gallery and curatorial expertise, as well as being able to bring in very good,...

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Bertrand Lavier, an a cappella interview

Following a long collaboration with the gallerist Yvon Lambert, Bertrand Lavier is, for the first time, showing work at the Almine Rech gallery. The artist is presenting a set of works from different “construction sites”, series that he gradually picks up over time as his work evolves. A guided tour.   Bertrand, your exhibition starts with a “painting room”… Here, I present several series of works, including new “Walt Disney Productions”. These works have classic frames, which give them a kitsch insolence. Stemming from one fiction – the one drawn by Walt Disney – they tip over to another – one associated with the field of art. These bright white wooden frames with foliage and arabesques highlight their artificial aspect. This is the first time that you’re using frames even if they were already present in the 1947 Walt Disney cartoon Mickey at the Museum of Modern Art. The Walt Disney Productions “construction site” started in 1984 with a series of Cibachromes, then ink jets on canvas until 2013, the year when I started painting on these prints. It was also in 1984 that I started covering mirrors with a “Van Gogh touch”. From 2011, I stopped covering their entire surface but instead would paint them with a “brushstroke touch” immortalised by Roy Lichtenstein. This way, I appropriated a fundamental gesture from contemporary painting and used it on the mirrors and Walt Disney Productions. This gesture, freer than the “Van Gogh” touch, allows me to easily follow the curves of painted motifs. For the Walt Disney Productions presented here, the fact that the whole of the canvas isn’t covered with paint means that the motif of the serigraphed outline is left visible, showing the stages preceding the final result. Have you used all the works that Mickey and Minnie discover...

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