CAPC
musée d'art contemporain
de Bordeaux

Exhibition // As part of "Ressources", Cultural Season Bordeaux 2021 //

24.06.2021 -> 02.01.2022

Absalon Absalon

In the nave of the museum.

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With: 
Absalon, Alain Buffard, Dora García, Robert Gober, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Marie-Ange Guilleminot, Mona Hatoum, Laura Lamiel, Myriam Mihindou 

 

The group exhibition Absalon Absalon takes the prematurely interrupted work of the Franco-Israeli artist Absalon as its starting point and proposes new interpretations via a selection of works by other artists of his generation and a network of conceptual and formal affinities. Best known for his Cellules (Cells) – geometric, architectural constructions painted in immaculate white which the artist conceived and constructed to live in – Absalon’s practice has often been considered part of a genealogy of avantgardes, a continuation of abstract radicalism, both generic and idealised, disconnected from worldly contingencies. Without wanting to overlook the harmony between Absalon’s work and a certain historic teleology, this exhibition interrogates intent and meaning by proposing a more subjective, political and embodied approach.

From a large selection of his drawings, models, sculptures, maps and built-to-scale prototypes, we attempt to show how Absalon’s work – whose linear trajectory ought to have led to a life-long project that would have surpassed the field of art – can be articulated around unique new ways of thinking. In retrospect, beneath the surface-level minimalism of his works, Absalon penetrated a multitude of social, affective and psychological questions all of which concern the emancipation of a physical body from a political body. His Cellules are less claustrophobic or deductive than they are built-to-scale mental and physical spaces: both protected and connected. They may almost be seen as bio-parasitical devices that function as a place for living and care in an environment considered by the artist as the sum of various agendas and determinants set by a culture his work would allow him to liberate himself from. They may almost be seen as bio-parasitical devices that function as a place for living and care in an environment considered by the artist as the sum of various agendas and determinants set by a culture his work would allow him to liberate himself from.

As a way of providing comparisons with this concrete utopia, and as part of a logic which is less dialectical than it is an opening of possibilities, we have chosen works by eight artists (Alain Buffard, Dora García, Robert Gober, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Marie-Ange Guilleminot, Mona Hatoum, Laura Lamiel, Myriam Mihindou) that we believe will generate multiple perspectives. Dissimulated amongst Absalon’s œuvre, these works should be viewed as couriers that allow for the transmission of cultural, spiritual, identarian, poetic and sentimental questions that go beyond Absalon’s primary monolithic and often impenetrable approach. This programme places Absalon’s searing career retrospectively: not within the hypothetical spirit of his time – the 1990s – but rather as part of a network of political, formal and affective resonances whose echoes can still be heard today.

The reconsideration of Absalon’s work almost thirty years after his death necessitates a reflection of his singularity as well as his proximity to a certain generation of artists that emerged onto the international stage at the turn of the nineties. Absalon’s work – extended entirely towards a will to live and on his own terms – should be situated with those artists who, particularly in the context of the fight against AIDS, put aside any prevarication which had once separated activism from artistic practice in order to immerse themselves in practices motivated by the urgency and imperative necessity to exist and bear witness to this existence. These are embodied denunciations of mechanisms of oppression and determinism, made into performances and physically “incorporated”, that places Absalon’s searing career retrospectively: not within the hypothetical spirit of his time – the 1990s – but rather as part of a network of political, formal and affective resonances whose echoes can still be heard today.

Curators: Guillaume Désanges and François Piron

 

BIOGRAPHIES OF THE ARTISTS

Absalon
Israeli, 1964-1993.

Meir Eshel was born in Ashdod in Israel in 1964. After resigning from his military service, Meir Eshel settled in Paris in 1987 where, on his uncle’s advice, he enrolled with the art critic Jacques Ohayon, in Christian Boltanski’s workshop at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. The collector and art history teacher Jacques Ohayon was also a flamboyant and subversive figure in Paris nightlife.

That same year, Meir took the name Absalon, inspired by a an Old Testament narrative, involving the story of a rebellious son who was eventually vanquished and murdered. So a name associated with the idea of revolt, but also with tragic fate.

When Absalon, encouraged by an ever larger fan club, started to show his work, swiftly enjoying critical acclaim, he was accepted at the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Arts Plastiques, an annual programme run by the former director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Pontus Hulten, and by the artists Daniel Buren and Sarkis. There, Absalon met in particular Michael Asher, who subsequently had a considerable influence on his work.

When he started to work with the Chantal Crousel gallery in Paris in 1990, he moved to a studio in Boulogne, built by Le Corbusier for the artist Jacques Lipchitz in 1924.

In January 1993, he held a major solo exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, organized by Béatrice Parent and Angeline Scherf. In it he showed the prototypes of his Cellules/Cells, white constructions built based on the proportions of measurements of the artist’s body and designed to be installed in six different cities for living in. Designed as “mental spaces” by Absalon, the Cells define a form of life based on resistance, habits, mechanisms and constraints, as forms not of alienation but of emancipation. What was involved, for Absalon, was living on his own terms by shedding assigned identities.

In October 1993, aged 28, Absalon died from the consequences of the Aids virus, before he could complete his project.

 

Alain Buffard
French, 1960-2013.

Having practiced as an interpretative dancer throughout the 1980s, it was only later that the French choreographer Alain Buffard truly trained himself – next to figures of postmodern American dance including Yvonne Rainer and Anna Halprin, all the while demonstrating an interest in performance artists like Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci, Mike Kelley and Chris Burden. He may well have lent them his conscious critique of daily gestures, his resistance to physical and mental determinants, and his minimalist economy of creation.

 

Dora García
Spanish, born in 1965.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, Dora García has been developing conceptual work based around critical approaches to patterns of western thought. Using her knowledge to explore the limits of this thought, her textual and one might even say linguistic work focuses on slippages of meaning, where concepts come face to face with affect; where thought and reason adopt various forms of beliefs and poetics.

 

Robert Gober
American, born in 1954.

The American sculptor Robert Gober became known in the 1980s for his handcrafted reproductions of everyday objects, which play on a strangeness created by an ambiguity between readymade and representation, decor and functionalism, realism and fiction. These reproductions of banal objects can be located as part of a political process that challenges cultural, social, sexual, religious and educational assignments.

 

Felix Gonzalez-Torres
American, 1957-1996.

Disease and demise are recurring themes in the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. His creations, for the most part ephemeral, often take the form of stacked objects. From sweets to fortune cookies to sheets of paper, these objects (which visitors are invited to handle) are intimately connected to his life and the trials he faced: his status as a Cuban immigrant; his homosexuality; and the AIDS epidemic, which would take his life in 1996. Profoundly engaged, the works of Gonzalez-Torres honour and invite all to partake in the memory of those who died of the disease.

 

Marie-Ange Guilleminot
French, born in 1960.

The work of Marie-Ange Guilleminot, who was Absalon’s partner from 1990 on, maintains, like the latter’s work, a relationship to the notion of “inhabiting”, which she understands as a precarious and discreet way of living and meeting basic physiological needs, through a form of nomadism. Her works are an interface between her body and the world, revealing a fundamental vulnerability and loneliness.

 

Mona Hatoum
British, of Palestinian origin, born in 1952.

Mona Hatoum was born in Beirut and exiled to London from 1975 on, when civil war broke out in Lebanon. She began her artistic career in the early 1980s with performance work that responded to political oppression, social conditioning, confinement and state surveillance. Carried out in galleries or in public spaces, these “situations”, more symbolic than they are directly linked to current events, metonymically refer to societal fractures and global conflicts, while being located in the England of the 1980s – a country that is “racist, unequal and ignorant of other cultures”.

 

Laura Lamiel
French, born in 1948.

Following on from her pictorial work, Laura Lamiel’s pieces gradually developed in space. In the 1990s, they took the form of “cells”: inaccessible white spaces where found objects and raw materials, scraps and manufactured products, are staged – rigorously arranged as if being stored, according to a sensitive and sensual order that plays with both emptiness and fullness. Despite being prolific and visually varied, Laura Lamiel’s work draws on a deliberately reduced formal repertoire, which recycles objects and materials from one work to the next.

 

Myriam Mihindou
Franco-Gabonese, born in 1964.

Myriam Mihindou’s multifaceted practice could be described as curative and magical, as much as artistic. Her performances are intimate experiences as much as they are performances; rituals as much as they are shows. Her sculptures and drawings are symbolic forms as much as they are objects of transmission, invested with empirical powers. A nomadic artist, she works empathetically with materials but also with specific people and cultural situations, seeking to repair the wounds of bodies and individual and collective psyches caused by different forms of domination, including colonial history.

 

BIOGRAPHIES DES COMMISSAIRES

Guillaume Désanges is an art critic and exhibition curator. He runs Work Method, an independent production organization based in Paris.
He coordinated the artistic activities at the Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers (2001-2007). He developed several lecture projects (The Dark Side of Form, A History of Performance in 20 minutes, Signs and Wonders, Vox Artisti, his master’s voice) and readings. He was the guest curator at the Plateau FRAC Ile-de-France, where he curated the series Érudition concrète (2009-2011).
Since 2013 he has been the curator at La Verrière, the Hermès Corporate Foundation in Brussels. Guillaume Désanges has organized several exhibitions in France and other countries, including: The Enemy of my Eneny with Neil Beloufa (Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2018), L’esprit français, Contre-cultures, 1969- 1989 with François Piron (La maison rouge - Fondation Antoine de Galbert, Paris, 2017), Poésie Balistique (La Verrière - Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, Bruxelles, 2016), Ma’aminim (the believers) (Prague tranzitdisplay, 2015), Une exposition universelle (documentary section) with Michel François (8th Biennale d’Art Contemporain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 2013), Escape Plans with Michel François (solo show) (SMAK, Ghent, 2009-2010), Intouchable with François Piron (Villa Arson, Nice, 2006 and Museo Patio Herreriano, Valladolid, 2007). He has taught at the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris-Cergy, at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Lyon.

 

François Piron is an art critic and exhibition curator. He is curator at the Palais de Tokyo, and founder of the Paraguay publishing house in Paris.
He ran the international post-graduate programme at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Lyon from 2012 to 2020, and organized the 5th Biennale de Rennes in 2016.
His recent shows include: Three Moral Tales and Odradek, Malmö Konsthall, in 2019 and 2018; Poésie prolétaire, Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, 2019; with Guillaume Désanges, Contre-vents, Le Grand Café, Saint-Nazaire, 2019, and L’esprit français, La maison rouge, Paris, 2017.
His latest publications have focused on the works of Katinka Bock (ROMA Publications), Ian Kiaer (Archive Books), Guy Mees (Sternberg Press), Pieter Vermeersch (Ludion Press), Alexandre Estrela (Paraguay), Koenraad Dedobbeleer (Koenig Books) and Guy de Cointet (Paraguay).

 

 

An exhibition co-produced with the Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM)

This exhibition is recognized as being of national interestby the Ministry of Culture/Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs. As such, it receives exceptional financial supportfrom the State.

With the support of the Institut français à Paris, the Ville de Bordeaux and the  Bordeaux Métropole.


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-> Nave of the museum
-> Disabled access
-> Price: 7€ ; 4€ (reduced rate)

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