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Amazing ! Clever ! Linguistic !, An Adventure in Conceptual Art
Generali Foundation, Vienna, Austria, 2013



With works by Robert Barry, Gottfried Bechtold, Marcel Broodthaers, Ernst Caramelle, Lili Dujourie, VALIE EXPORT, Andrea Fraser, Bruno Gironcoli, Dan Graham, Hans Haacke, Sanja Ivekovi ?, Jaros ?aw Koz ?owski, Richard Kriesche, Friedl Kubelka, Dora Maurer, Gordon Matta-Clark, Dennis
Oppenheim, Ewa Partum, Adrian Piper, Martha Rosler, Gerhard Rühm, Allan Sekula, Goran Trbuljak, Ian Wallace, Peter Weibel, Franz West, and others.

Curated by Guillaume Désanges

Press conference, preview : January 17, 2013, 10 a.m.

Opening : January 17, 2013, 7 p.m.

Exhibition on view : January 18-April 21, 2013

lien : http://foundation.generali.at/en/info/press.html

Press release

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Generali Foundation, three international curators :Guillaume Désanges, Helmut Draxler, and Gertrud Sandqvist ; will each organize a show using a unique presentation format to shed light from individual angles on the Generali Foundation’s collection, its institutional and exhibition policies, and hence its contribution to historiography on the basis of institutional work. Additional discussions and lectures taking place throughout this anniversary year will take their cue from the curators’ different personal approaches, the questions they raise concerning the definition of what is called Concept (or Conceptual) art and what it means to collect and curate it, and their reflections on the relationship between Conceptual and historical display strategies and the artworks themselves. The first show is by French curator and critic Guillaume Désanges.

"I think art is the only political power, the only revolutionary power , the only evolutionary power, the only power to free humankind from all repression. I say not that art has already realized this, on the contrary, and because it has not, it has to be developed as a weapon, at first there are radical levels, then you can speak about special details." (Joseph Beuys, 1973*)

"... one of the limitations of history as a discipline is that the material persistence of the documents blinds it to the exigency of the resurrection." (Jalal Toufic, 2009**).

Exhibition view : Amazing !, Clever ! Lingustic ! An Adventure in Conceptual art, 2013 Photo : Margherita Spiluttini

The emergence of Conceptual art in the late 1960s was a unique intellectual and aesthetic adventure that drew on the most refreshing sources of the 20th century... a revolution of forms and of intelligence that won the semantic and ideological battle in spite of its alleged shortcomings and failings, quietly imposing a new politics of seeing. This nuclear force, as subliminal as it was powerful, made a lasting impact on relations between time and space, mind and body, art and life, function and contingency.
Invited to devise an exhibition on the Generali Foundation collection, a collection based on Conceptual art that pursues the stakes of this movement, instead of adding yet another theoretical layer I wanted to take an approach based on love and admiration. I wanted to go directly to the core of the matter, in a spirit of sharing and celebrating rather than trying a renewal of critical perspectives. In an urgent, desiring, and nonhierarchical way, unfolding the movement’s theoretical, aesthetic, political, and poetic aspects. Approaching from a position of overdrive and saturation, using a strategy less selective than elective, in all of conceptual art’s various but not conflicting senses. Creating a cognitive and sensory epic, in a mode more narrative than discursive, taking as my model mass-audience exhibitions in a historical, scientific, or educational vein... a mix of wonder and knowledge, science and exoticism, didacticism and propaganda.
For a curator, each exhibition may be a new situation, a way to challenge the obvious and find a form that beat out the same rhythm as its topic. In this case, it was about answering the question of what it might mean to curate "conceptually." This could involve working in the register of "deskilling," a concept that has existed since modernism and that saw a resurgence in the context of Conceptualism, opposing academic discipline with a certain kind of amateurism. Deskilled curating means avoiding reflexes and the temptations of virtuosity, with the goal of reconnecting with the spirit of freedom, and risk-taking that animated the pioneers of Conceptual art. This curatorial reterritorialization is implemented here in an openly transitive exhibition, in the utopian hope of addressing a broad audience, bypassing the filter of professional art-world codes. The objective is to offer an experience via a scenography based on density and generosity, in a desperate attempt to bring order into the chaos of concepts and approaches. From "expanded intelligence" to the "extraordinariness of the everyday," from the "spatiotemporal revolution" to the "beauty of the layout," works from the collection are repositioned playfully but precisely within a network of references, paratexts, images, slogans, objects, artifacts, and commentaries that are more or less spontaneous, more or less accurate, more or less objective, without making any concessions in terms of demand or complexity. An updated celebration in exhibition mode, bearing in mind that this incredible adventure is based on a true story. .[...] (Guillaume Désanges)

In Collaboration with Work Method, a Paris based agency for artistic projects. Research Manager : Mélanie Mermod, Assistants : Jing He, Jeanne Barral. Charts and diagrams : Hélène Meisel.
Assistant-Curator Generali Foundation : Georgia Holz

* Joseph Beuys, in "Avalanche" Newspaper, May/June 1974

** in "The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster", 2009

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Exhibition view : Amazing !, Clever ! Lingustic ! An Adventure in Conceptual art, 2013 Photo : Margherita Spiluttini

L’avènement de l’art conceptuel à la fin des années 1960 a été une aventure intellectuelle et esthétique unique, puisant aux sources les plus rafraîchissantes du vingtième siècle. Une révolution des formes et de l’intelligence qui, malgré ses soi-disant insuffisances et échecs, a gagné la bataille sémantique et idéologique, imposant discrètement une nouvelle politique du regard. Cette force nucléaire, aussi subliminale que puissante, a durablement bouleversé les relations du temps à l’espace, du corps à l’esprit, de l’art à la vie, du fonctionnel au contingent.

Invité à imaginer une exposition de la collection de la fondation Generali, qui prend racine dans l’art conceptuel en en prolongeant les enjeux, je n’ai pas souhaité ajouter de couche théorique à ce mouvement, mais plutôt travailler dans un régime de l’amour et de l’admiration. Soit, aller frontalement au coeur du sujet sans le dévier, privilégiant la célébration et le partage au renouvellement des perspectives critiques. Pour ce faire, déplier de manière urgente, désirante et sans hiérarchie, des enjeux théoriques, esthétiques, politiques et poétiques du mouvement. Travailler dans le sur-régime et la saturation, dans l’élection plus que la sélection, dans tous les sens, qui sont nombreux sans être contradictoires. Simplement, raconter une épopée cognitive et sensuelle dans un ordre du narratif plus que du discursif, en prenant comme modèle les expositions populaires de type historique, scientifique ou pédagogique : un mélange d’émerveillement et de savoir, de science et d’exotisme, de didactisme et de propagande.

Si pour un curateur, chaque exposition doit être une situation nouvelle, une manière de lutter contre les évidences et trouver une forme qui batte au rythme de son sujet, il s’agit ici de proposer une réponse à la question comment curater "conceptuellement" ? Ce pourrait être par exemple, travailler dans un registre du "deskilling", concept moderniste ayant resurgi dans le contexte de l’art conceptuel, qui oppose un certain amateurisme à l’expertise académique. Soit, éviter les réflexes et la tentation de virtuosité pour tenter de retrouver l’esprit frondeur, libre, risqué qui anima les pionniers de l’art conceptuel. Cette reterritorialisation curatoriale passe ici par une exposition ouvertement transitive, dans l’utopie d’une adresse au grand public, sans le filtre des codifications professionnelles du monde de l’art. Ce faisant, il s’agit de proposer la possiblité d’une expérience, à travers une scénographie fondée sur la densité et la générosité, et dans une tentative désespérée d’ordre dans un chaos d’approches et de concepts. De l’ "expanded intelligence" à l’ "extraordinaire du quotidien", de la "révolution spatiotemporelle" à "beauté du laytout", les oeuvres sont replacées dans un réseau de références, paratextes, images, slogans, objets, artefacts, commentaires plus ou moins spontanés, plus ou moins justes, plus ou moins objectifs, de manière ludique et précise sans rien céder sur l’exigence et la complexité des choses. Une célébration actualisée dans le mode d’exposition, gardant à l’esprit que cette incroyable aventure est basée sur des faits réels.
(Guillaume Désanges)

In Collaboration with Work Method, a Paris based agency for artistic projects. Research Manager : Mélanie Mermod, Assistants : Jing He, Jeanne Barral. Charts and diagrams : Hélène Meisel.
Assistant-Curator Generali Foundation : Georgia Holz

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Exhibition view : Amazing !, Clever ! Lingustic ! An Adventure in Conceptual art, general view
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Exhibition view : Amazing !, Clever ! Lingustic ! An Adventure in Conceptual art, general view
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Exhibition view : Amazing !, Clever ! Lingustic ! An Adventure in Conceptual art, Dan Graham’s room
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Exhibition view : Amazing !, Clever ! Lingustic ! An Adventure in Conceptual art,general view
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Exhibition view : Amazing !, Clever ! Lingustic ! An Adventure in Conceptual art, pedagogical device,
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Exhibition view : Amazing !, Clever ! Lingustic ! An Adventure in Conceptual art, pedagogical device
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Exhibition view : Amazing !, Clever ! Lingustic ! An Adventure in Conceptual art, pedagogical device, the White Cube’s diorama
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Exhibition view : Amazing !, Clever ! Lingustic ! An Adventure in Conceptual art, Hall of Fame
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Exhibition view : Amazing !, Clever ! Lingustic ! An Adventure in Conceptual art, Robert Barry "It Can Change " 1970/71 20 b&w slides, 35mm,
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Adrian Piper, Catalysis IV, 1971 Documentation of the performance 5 b&w photographs,