Sunday 21 May: This was exhibition day. First stop was Jeu de Paume, the photography museum in Place de la Concorde. They have three exhibitions on at the moment, Eli Lotar, Peter Campus and Ali Cherri.
“French photographer and cinematographer of Romanian origin, Eli Lotar (Eliazar Lotar Teodorescu, Paris, 1905 – 1969) arrived in France in 1924 and rapidly became one of the first avant-garde photographers in Paris. Close to Germaine Krull —Lotar worked as her apprentice for a time —and later to the Surrealists, his work was published in many of the avant-garde publications of the day, and featured in several major international photography exhibitions, including Fotographie der Gegenwart, Film und Foto, Documents de la vie sociale, etc.” 1
I really enjoyed this exhibition which was all in black and white on silver gelatin. Lotar covered street photography, portraits, surrealism, documentary/photojournalism, film and even collaborated with Giacometti (who has an exhibition on at the Tate that I am going to see this weekend). Some of my favourite pictures are below. The man holding the sea-urchin is so simple yet quite powerful, it took me a while to notice that the middle finger is completely black. The sleeeping woman is quite humourous but at the same time disconcerting. The photo-documentary work about the abattoir is quite powerful, especially the rows of cows feet against the wall. There is not one single style I can say that you can draw from his work, it clearly depends on the what the subject mattter is. I did not buy the exhibition book, but that was because I did not want to carry it around for the rest of the day… it was a hardback . But I’ll be ordering it from Amazon 🙂
© Eli Lotar
“American artist Peter Campus (born in 1937 in New York) is one of the most influential pioneers of video art, along with artists like Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, Joan Jonas, Vito Acconci and Bill Viola. The latter helped Campus install his first major exhibition at the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse (NY) in 1974. Throughout his career, Peter Campus has produced videos, installations, and a large body of photographic work. In his recent video work, he makes use of digital techniques to work on the image, pixel by pixel, rather like a painter. Using an extremely high-definition digital camera, Peter Campus pursues his current work. A large number of his works are featured in some of the world’s greatest contemporary art museums.” 2
Now normally I am not really taken by video installations, but Peter Campus’ work was quite challenging and engaging. Kiva is an installation with 4 cameras and 4 screens which project your image when you walk into the area where they are set up and you see your image projected in the 4 screens. But only one of them shows all 4 images. My favourite piece was Anamnesis. One camera projects your image with a delat so that when you walk, across the sightline of the camera, you see youself following yourself. The second image eventually catches up with the first. I spent a few minutes amusing myself with this installation. Of course I was trying to work out how he had managed to get the camera to show the two images, but that was a little beyond my capabilities.
Peter Campus was also a photographer and there was a small sample of his work. To be honest, it did not do that much for me, I found his videography much more appealing.
© Peter Campus
“Ali Cherri is a video and visual artist. His current project looks at the place of the archaeological object in the construction of historical narratives. In recent years, he has unearthed systems of archaeological preservation, exploring the history of ruins and cartography in the context of the Middle East and North Africa’s pre- and post-colonial histories.” 3
This was the smallest of the exhibitions and although these pictures are quite intriguing it was the one I found the least interesting at the time.. but I suspect hunger had a lot to do with this 🙂
La Maison Rouge – L’esprit Francais: Contre-cultures 1969-1989
This exhibition was an absolutely eclectic mix of art, sculpture, installation, publications, photography and it was all in French… so I had my work cut out. But it was all about the political, social and economic issues that France was dealing with during this period and with that context, it was very interesting. There was so much to see and despite the fact that it was busy both in terms of people and exhibits, I was not overwhelmed by what was being presented. And it gave my French comprehension a run for its money. The were early editions of Hara-Kiri Hebdo – the precursor to Charlie Hebdo, pamphlets about feminism and calls for protest, L’Observateur covers as well more contemporary paintings about political and social issues of the day.
The pictures below represent work that I found interesting from: Claude Lalanne (The man with the cabbage head); Michel Journiac (Homage to the unknown putain), he also had a series of cross-dressing portraits; Alfred Courmes; Alain Le Saux; Henri Cueco; Marinette Cueco; Lucien Fluery; Edgard Naccache; Gérard Schlosser; Dominique Schnée; Pierre Mollnier; and Jacques Monory.
I really liked the work of Annette Messager and one piece were pictures of men’s crotches and from a distance and then zoomed in until you could only make out the crease in the material which she shaded in pencil so you could see abstract shapes. Having googled her, she as done a range of work that is quite diverse.
I also liked the work of Jorge Damonte taking portraits of Copi in his garb for the play Le frigo… yes it appeals to the counter-culturalist in me (believe that and you’ll believe anything)!
The final piece that ended the show and which really struck me was a painting by Jacques Monory called Antoine. I found it really haunting and quite desperate.
I really enjoyed this cultural day out which challenged me both from a language perspective but also in terms of the wide range of works and artists in the fullest sense that I was exposed to in both venues. It has given me a lot of food for thought and I will take some time to dig a little deeper to find out more about the artists who contributed to the L’esprit Francais: Contre-cultures 1969-1989. I can safely say that my head was filled by the time I left and needed to be emptied with more food and drink 🙂
Assignment criteria: 3