Le Sentiment de Choses / The Feeling of Things. Review by Jo-ey Tang
One could have mistaken the art center ‘Le Plateau’ repurposed as a furniture pop-up store, as the view from the outside into the exhibition attests: lighting fixtures, mirrors, room dividers, an awkwardly-shaped desk, a steel childs bed. Gallery attendants, like idle salespersons, can be occasionally seen on swinging chairs around the exhibition space, prompting a contemplative moment of dissonance on the intersection of leisure and consumption of culture. But once inside, it is the nature of perception and art production that grounds the first in a series of three exhibitions by the curatorial duo Yoann Gourmel and Élodie Royer. The multifarious work of Milan-born Bruno Munari (1907-1998) provides a prismatic context for other contemporary artists, such as Isabelle Cornaro, Ryan Gander, Martino Gamper, Clément Rodzielski, as well as the works of Robert Filliou, Ray Johnson, and Fred Sandback.
Munari created with a sense of ecstatic drive across art and design in xerography, serigraphy, industrial design, children’s books, graphic designs,16mm films, paintings, mobiles and sculptural objects. ‘Abitacolo’ (1970-2011), a structure that could be converted into a bed, table, and play area for children, and ‘Falkland’ (1964-2011) and ‘Esagonale’ (1969-2011) hanging lamps, all still in production. But the visual surprises are his experimentation in xerography, what he termed ‘original copies’, from 1970s up to 1990s. Eschewing the format of a retrospective, the exhibition operates in what the curators call a ‘prospective’, with Munari towering with his long aesthetic reach, as the armature and strings of a mobile sculpture around which various artists orbit.
Chitti Kasemkitvatana’s ‘Being trying to understand itself/touch the ground’ (1994-2011), comprises three empty wooden and glass vitrines, in rectangular, circular, and cubic shapes, with one single fresh orange atop the rectangular vitrine. Art journal ‘Messy Sky’, edited by Kasemkitvatana and Pratchaya Phinthong makes its debut, hung on a custom-made wooden binder that holds in place two stacks of loose pages, which are available as a free pdf download. One half of the art journal acts as an unofficial exhibition catalogue, edited by Gourmel and Royer, with each artist contributing an image. Thus, it manages to simultaneously occupies within the exhibition and recontextualizes the exhibition itself. Julien Crépieux provides unexpected relief from inanimate objects in the video ‘Untitled (Travelling Kid)’ (2011), which shows a slowed down tracking shot of a young boy running in the forest. The speed of the video counters the stop-and-start movements of the boy. It is not certain if the camera is following the boy, or if he is following the camera. The figures, one seen and the other unseen, are like ‘original copies’; their traction propels the production of an image.
The last work of the exhibition could be easily missed, tempting invisibility. Mark Geffriaud’s ‘Shelter’ (2011, in collaboration with Géraldine Longueville) is a mud fragment of a house yet to be built, and without a plan. It is sized to the width of an existing step out of the last room at Le Plateau. This movement of an object born out of an exhibition space, and going out into the world for the first time, with a definite yet uncertain future in mind, is as close to cultural camouflage as it gets, something that would no doubt please Munari. As, in his description of ‘Abitacolo’, - a space hidden in the midst of people’.