Art Fiac 2015
Impressions from the Parisian fair.
For her new body of work, Cindy Sherman, has revisited her archive. Sprüth Magers and Metro Pictures show collages she made from non-used work including her ‘Fairy Tales’ and ‘Pure Horror’ series.
I asked Andreas Gegner of Sprüth Magers if there was a specific reason as to why she revisited this part of her oeuvre. “I can only give you my take on her work as Cindy doesn’t talk about her own work,” he answers. “Cindy has received most critical acclaim for her beautiful ‘Untitled Film Stills’ series, however, the ugly, grotesque series she made in the 1990s is very close to her heart. These images haven’t received the same amount of appreciation as the ‘Untitled Film Still’ series. The setting of these dark images is revolting and repulsive but there is also extraordinary beauty in these works. I think these collages do show that”.
Walking through the fair in the B section you hear a soft Gregorian-like singing. The sound comes from an HD video by Ragnar Kjartansson. I first discovered the work of the Icelandic artist with his moving nine-screen multichannel video installation, ‘The Visitors’, on display at The Guggenheim Bilbao. It is a musical performance staged at a historic American house for which Kjartansson assembled a group of musicians. Each screen shows a musician, with headphones, in a separate room playing an instrument. Kjartansson sits in a bathtub playing an acoustic guitar and the group sings the refrain repeatedly “Once again, I fall into my feminine ways” in unison. The line is from a poem by Asdis Sif Gunnarsdottir. The performance is breath taking and I was touched by the sense of community and sense of harmony that the work evoked in me.
The three women that feature in Kjartansson’s video ‘Song’ repeatedly sing the line ‘The weight of the world is love’ in a six-hour cross between cinema and performance. Geneva Viralam of the gallery, tells me that the long blonde haired women are Kjartansson’s nieces, sitting on a round rotating bed in grand hall surrounded by Egyptian, Greek and Roamn sculpture and architecture at Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. The line that they are singing is from an Allen Ginsberg poem. It’s a poetic, entrancing work. Currently, Palais de Tokyo presents the first solo show of Kjartansson in France. A review of the show will be posted next month.
The gallery presents some beautiful and powerful work by David Altmejd. ‘L’iris’ is an intricate work with bullet-like holes in a mirror. It reminds me of the upcoming James Bond film logo where Bond shoots a hole in a glass surface in the middle of the letter C of SPECTRE; the cracks subtly morph into legs of a spider. Andrea Rosen tells me that Altmejd created the holes with a hammer at predetermined spots. The work consists of five layers where the Canadian artist sawed circles of various sizes into wood. He pasted mirrors on both sides of the surface and then smashed the holes into it, using a hammer. The view is infinite; a combination of destruction and beauty combined. Or, as Rosen eloquently described it: “An aesthetic structure combined with the organism of life.”
Some visitors asked the gallery staff of Hauser and Wirth if the pile of Charlie Hebdo ‘Tout est Pardonné – Je suis Charlie’ issues are also for sale at their booth. The gruesome attack on the satirical magazine headquarters in Paris at the beginning of this year, inspired Paul Schimmel, Vice President of the gallery, to organise a booth with a selection of works addressing the principles of free speech and artistic expression.
Schimmel’s selection includes works by Mark Bradford, Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Wilhem Sasnal, Rita Ackermann, Fausto Melotti and Rashid Johnson. The works are beautifully positioned at the booth with more extrovert parts than calm, subdued parts. To my taste, the booth is too subdued and lacked a similar sense of urgency, outrage and indignation that was expressed by (European) journalists and cartoonists commenting on the events at the time.
‘Shea Wall’ by Rashid Johnson. On the preview day of Fiac, in front of the Petit Palais, the New York based artist build a wall with cinder blocks and shea butter blocks – a reinvention of Allan Kaprow’s 1970s performance “Sweet Wall”. In proximity of the Berlin Wall, Kaprow build a concrete wall and used strawberry jam as the mortar.
Matthew Day Jackson, Pareidolia, wood, steel, resin, glass taxidermy eyes, Meerschaum tobacco pipe silicon, Fernet Branca, Rainer beer, Laphroiag, coffee, acrylic paint, iron dust, porcelain teeth, fabric, 2015, Hauser & Wirth
The night before, a duo show by Johnson and Matthew Day Jackson opened at Studio des Acacias. Both artists presented new bodies of work. Some of the works by Jackson are a continuation of his show ‘Core and Strip’ at Grimm gallery earlier this year, where the artist presented works made with alcoholic drinks. Some of the noses in this show are formed by the top of beer bottle or Pareidolia is made with Fernet Branca, Rainer beer, Laphroiag and coffee. The faces / masks are deceptive friendly.
Written by Thierry Somers