New-York Gallery, NY — 2013
PR Broken Windows
Robin Cameron Mathieu Carmona Stephane Devidal Philippe Fernandez Ryan Gander Camille Henrot Lauren Huret Valentina Liernur
organised by Benoît Maire
Comparing painting to a window is a classical allegory, and during the Renaissance Alberti only had to drive home the point that Plato speaking of Zeuxis had begun to make. In the 1980s Microsoft's software flooded the personal computer market, and screens with windows that open into each other appeared in our domestic environments. There were already a lot of windows in some ancient paintings, but there are even more with different speeds when typing a text on the keyboard of a laptop, especially if to do this we make use of some friendly grammar and spell-check tools not to mention the moment we introduce an iconography gleaned from various multimedia digital libraries. The window remains the parergon -- the framework through which two different worlds are led to communicate. It is the place where our gaze goes from one to the other. Nowadays, of course, it is not just painting which meets this definition: a sculpture, a poem, an installation, a performance or a movie, etc. ... all do so. But why talk about broken windows? Experience shows that windows break easily, and there are two main reasons why. First, the viewer can have a surplus of passion for a work, which forces it and pushes it to break. Secondly an analytical study, taking a second look, can forget the world the window opens into, because it is too big and too strong. We usually can not bear the world which a work of art opens into. We stay at the level of the formal description of the work, not of its world, that is to say at its pure material aspect. Thus deprived of its function, the window is broken in yet another way. So the works presented in this exhibition are indeed broken windows. They are torn from a more complete body to which they belong (the work of each artist), they are forced then reconfigured in a given space and finally rearranged so that the gaze that leaves one of them enters another only to come out of a third. The world they open into remains adequately indescribable. That we may never see one of these works without breaking it could be an axiom of the exhibition, which could also be said for each of us as follows: I do not see the world, I see the window. It may be noted that this axiom is justified in a formal analysis of the works when my desire as an old European will be more hermeneutic, wanting to possess the world they open into, which is yet another way to break ... or at least to twist them. The works in the exhibition refine this idea in several ways: Ryan Gander shows a photograph taken of his family before he was born. This photograph existed, therefore, before he chose to show it, but he reconfigures it through the title, "My family before me," he gives it. This statement's hiatus that opens an infinite reflexive space concerns the possessive pronoun "my." How is this family his before he was born? One has the impression that before he was born, before Ryan was therefore endowed with language, but even before he came into being, before you could say: "Ryan Gander is." The artist's already recognizes his family and becomes one with it, speaking from a radical outside impossible to describe. The total otherness of the outside was also raised in an original film by Philippe Fernandez. In "Conte philosophique" (Philosophical Tale) we are witnessing the wandering of a man coming out of a movie theater who seeks to capture sunlight in a cardboard box, for example. Philippe says that his film is based on the story of Plato's "Republic," and he offers a layout of the allegory of Plato's cave where it would be replaced by a movie theater. The question that arises concerning cinematic principle -- when we know the universe of statements which it supports, and whose relationship to reality is bounded by Hitchcock and Godard, when the former says that film is "a big slice of cake "or when the latter announces that film expresses" the truth 24 times per second "-- could well be the one explored in the latest film by Leos Carax: Holy Motors (the illusion creating machine)... But the important thing in the film by Philippe Fernandez concerns the emotion with which we follow this man thrown out the window who sees the world for the first time. Between the movie theater and the outside world there is therefore a thick separation. Mathieu Carmona proposes we see it in "the overall difference between the sensitive and the intelligible" splitting apart the Platonic categories, which themselves are separated by an unobstructed window: the sky. He also brought back a piece of the cliff from the Island of Rügen repeatedly painted by Friedrich which he adds to his sculpture whose base is made of recovery melamine and some sheets of paper with scribbled diagrams. This chalk he brought back proves that he saw what the painter saw without the mediation of a window and allows him to enter a more materialistic possibility to the initial and original separation of Platonic metaphysics. Through each series of paintings Valentina Liernur confronts the question of an enunciation style. When you look at the series on her personal web page, you are amazed by how the description of just a few of her paintings shows the present possibility of the medium. A kind of blue outline will drip a little to draw cats, a scratching process will create abstract compositions, and using Scotch tape will make the space in yet another series problematic. Further on, works from the "retratos" (Portraits) series which are in the exhibition are shown hanging on what appears to be a hall maybe in a bank, or later you see a painting hung on an elementary school wall in the middle of papers that have no connection to them next to a light blue door that someone has just opened whose surprised look questions the person taking the photo. This way of proceeding, of painting and then putting online the paintings as images in the center of a not strictly artistic universe forces the paintings to be placed somewhere other than their usual place. Valentina herself extricates her work from its original registration location to give her paintings another function, which she sometimes reinforces even more by performance. Questions developed by Valentina are continued in the work of Stéphane Devidal where painting and drawing are nestled in extensive contexts, wall painting, painting on frames, photographed tattoos, gif animations and photos of installations that are rearranged in Photoshop. This collage of different graphic and pictorial sources is enhanced with digital painting tools, brushes, textures, sometimes letters and digital shading. Stéphane Devidal's practice foresees post web expressionism, which disturbs the post-conceptual period which comes at its end. The parallel with the new figurative art in the 80s that meant to break with minimal and conceptual aesthetic (black and white in short) is easy. Before invading the established exhibition halls, this practice appeared in certain outside areas, namely the street and graffiti, when that of Stéphane and his friends seems to assert itself in another "minor" practice which is the tattoo. A certain expressionism is also felt in the work of Lauren Huret, but a conceptual rigor refuses fantasies of color. This means that expressionism is more in ideas, while forms are more cruel, cutting to the quick, that is to say without complacent mediation, sharp statements on the thought of our times. The game of the window in the collage that is presented in the exhibition is arranged around the transplanting of esoteric elements from another time which are summoned like an assembly of wise men bearing a disturbing outlook (these figures are cut out in shape of teeth) on the future. This large collage is actually perhaps a set of dentures, or at best an open mouth that seeks to explain the period from a point of view which would overlook, which would be outside the situation, but with the awareness that it is quite impossible . Robin Cameron enfin présente une pièce qui s'intitule "Lack" et qui est ce qui manque précisément à l'exposition. Elle se compose de deux parties, un court texte qui est présenté dans la salle d'exposition imprimé sur une feuille de papier, et un objet en bronze, métonymique d'une forme triangulaire, en volume, et qui est séparé de la salle d'exposition. Cet objet absent a été créé par Robin à partir de lectures de Lacan, et l'hypothèse est tentante de l'assimiller à un objet a, cause du désir mais sans représentation dans la réalité. Cet objet est ce qui pousse à créer et casser les fenêtres, car il est ce qui doit se faire attrapper, mais échappe toujours à toute saisie: avant de le voir, il faudra donc le trouver. Robin Cameron finally shows a piece entitled "Lack," which is precisely what is lacking in the exhibition. It consists of two parts: a short text presented in the exhibition room printed on a sheet of paper, and a bronze metonymic object in the shape of a triangle, having volume, which is separated from the exhibition room. This absent object was created by Robin based on readings of Lacan, and it is tempting to assimilate it to an object because of desire but without any representation in reality. This object is what motivates to create and break windows, because it is what should be caught but always escapes seizure: before seeing it, you will have to find it. Finally, like an allegory for my work in organizing this exhibition and my actions vis-à-vis these works that I tore out from wider contexts, I added a measurement tool that I made recently. In fact I was wondering if this item framed and hung from the ceiling could not symbolize my position as curator. While saying that I am indeed an artist, which means that remaining on the outside to make the exhibition is completely impossible because I am in the house, I am as much a window maker as the other artists and not a mason!