top of page
  • (first published on

More of Paris: Cindy Sherman, Celèste Boursier-Mougenot, Sturtevant and the double Gabriel Orozco

Paris - Here comes the second part of our overview on the Parisian gallery scene this autumn. A well anticipated event is Gabriel Orozco's double show at Chantal Crousel and Marian Goodman. Things like this may arrive, when an artist's American gallery has a subsidiary on his European gallery's home ground. Both agreed on a common date for their exhibitions - but do they leave the impression to have cooperated in curating them, too?

At Marian Goodman we find an extensive installation: A triangular form (a bit like that Star Trek emblem) is spanning over us, changing the space's architecture, from a certain perspective it might look like three giant boomerangs united. Underneath three platforms with five terracotta objects shaped like reversed bicycle saddles. It creates quite an atmosphere, and triangles always come along with a hefty mythological charge. Proceeding to the basement we watch a video of the artist throwing a boomerang after his son(?), never hitting him, but never letting him catch it, either. They stand around a swimming pool in front of the open sea, all very meaningful. (Just a try: Life's a boomerang, we get back where we started, and living forth in your offspring is an illusion?) I am not sure though, whether this peculiar chemical smell that accompanied the film is part of the exhibition or remained from the cleaning lady's passage.

At Chantal Crousel Gallery, Orozco filled the room with plume trees: bamboo branches with attached bird feathers. Plus a lot more terracotta forms, a video of the artist's hand shaping one of them and photographs of feather mobiles hanging down in front of a road. Thinking about it for a while, everything seems to centre on geometric harmony, on a triangle of (human) animal, plant and lifeless mass, floating forth and back through time and space like a boomerang. Thus in the end the two shows turn out to be congruent, the direction of the artist's research becomes visible in both spaces.

Gagosian presents Cindy Sherman and she chose suitable works for the occasion. In Paris, fashion should be a logical link for everybody and, following her habit of self-portraits in countless roles, the artist posed in historical dresses from a famous Parisian label. These photographs show her - a woman no longer of an age when fashion underlines natural beauty, but when it rather serves to distract from natural appearance - in front of rough landscapes. Adapted to each dress's period, she imitates fashion photography in expression, the background is photoshopped the most - to the point of being mistakable for painting - when it includes a building, another man made object. The results look nice and seem quite easy to comprehend.

Sturtevant's show at Thaddaeus Ropac brings philosophy to the non-reader by rendering homage to Gilles Deleuze. In fact the three videos in the basement with scholars and artists praising the late French philosopher don't seem very artistic. It may be my fault, but I prefer to watch a "real documentary" or simply to read. On the first floor the photo series "Dillinger Running" is of much more interest. These works based on historic press coverage of the legendary gangster constitute not only an inquiry into history and the American dream but fascinate with a very distinctive aesthetic.

Celèste Boursier-Mougenot at Xippas seems to deliver an ironic comment on the recently finished Paralympics. Completely counteracting the trend to render every last corner handicap-friendly, he obstructed the gallery's narrow staircase with solid rocks. It's a struggle to get upstairs, but art does not have to be accessible and the dangerous ascent is rewarded with a great exhibition. More rocks on large wooden pillars emit an unidentifiable sound that only in the next room is revealed as originating in a beehive that we observe through a glass door (I wonder how many visitors just like me try to open it before realising what lies behind). Sadly America Human Association did not monitor the creation of this artwork and the windowsill lies full of dead bees, probably they lost orientation for all the white colour around (White Cubes are so depressingly old-fashioned). Still their sacrifice is a noble one, as the former musician Boursier-Mougenot continues to create impressive amalgamations of sound and vision.

Now we don't want to forget Kamel's (Mennour Gallery) Camille (Henrot), who used actual flowers and other materials to visualise bloomy metaphors taken from various books. Amazing, too. And after all these big names one newcomer to keep in mind: at Dominique Fiat Gallery, Simon Nicaise shows what happens when a young artist just has fun. Ice balls in a freezer, cement spilling out of a tube on the wall, screws glued to a broom,... objects with a twinkling eye, a show to leave you with a smile on your face. Paris is still alive.



bottom of page