“interview”

Allan McCollum, encounter in Soho

Born in 1944 in Los Angeles, Allan McCollum has lived in the heart of Manhattan since the 1960s. He is represented by the Mitterrand, Thomas Schulte and MFC-Michèle Didier galleries. An in-studio encounter.   Your work, based on the repetition of forms, is a continuation of your first series dating back to the 1970s… Having been an artist for nearly fifty years, I’ve done a lot of research in my time, but at my age, it becomes important, and even necessary, to look back and see what all your work has in common. I haven’t finished thinking about it yet, even if some unifying themes recur, such as mass production and unique objects. Since the very start of my career, I’ve explored these distinctions, I’ve mixed them up, and while I’m not the only artist to be doing this, I’ve always systematically worked in enormous quantities! I don’t make fifty but ten thousand pieces, and each one is unique. All of my investigations have also considered the space of the gallery or museum, as opposed to that of a store. I always try to contextualise the different ways we have of showing objects with meaning for us. I’ve also made some “souvenirs” and collaborated with small towns to create pieces relating to their own craftsmanship.   Did you originally intend for this multiplicity and this notion of quantity to go against a certain fetishisation of art and the art world? I never use this word “fetishisation” but I agree with the idea. I was born during World War II and I grew up at a time when we discovered the horrors of Nazis and millions of people killed just because they were Jewish, Communists, homosexuals, gypsies… It was a nightmare. Of course I’m expressing my own view, but I...

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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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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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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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Javier Peres, art out of time

Iconoclast or iconophile? Innovative, or the product of an era? This year, Parcours des Mondes has invited Berlin gallerist Javier Peres to exhibit a few pieces from his personal contemporary-art collection alongside a selection of dealers’ works. The recent years have demonstrated a step-up in boldness amongst exhibition curators. Events such as “Bord des Mondes” (Palais de Tokyo, 2015), “Une Brève Histoire de l’Avenir” (Louvre, 2015) and “Carambolages” (Grand Palais, 2016), have brought together works without any immediate or flagrant historical ties, but other less obvious links. History has not been cast aside, but played down in relation to anthropological or formal connections. In this way, these exhibitions can be compared to essays or protocols rather than demonstrations, their intention less being to highlight a moment in art history than to speak about Man, to investigate the great history of human representations, or to operate formal matches that convey meaning. This same audacity is behind the appealing display of classic African art next to contemporary art. In this way, in May this year, Bernard de Grunne and Almine Rech joined forces to organise an exhibition that was highly publicised: “Imaginary Ancestors”, unveiled at Almine Rech’s New York gallery. The latter restaged a Paul Guillaume exhibition shown at the Durand-Ruel gallery in 1933 (displaying Fang sculptures next to contemporary works of the time, proof that this curatorial gesture has been around for a while), and in parallel, matched “modern primitivists” with artists such as Joe Bradley, Mark Grotjahn, Ana Mendieta, James Turrell and Erika Verzutti. Javier Peres is familiar with this game of mix-and-match. The gallerist (Peres Projects, Berlin) has already played it on three occasions. First of all, in 2014, in his Karl Marx Allee gallery, with the exhibition “Group Spirit”, at which he showed Bundu helmet-masks from his personal collection...

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