Isabelle Le Minh — Why didn’t you make it larger ?
Isabelle Le Minh
Why didn’t you make it larger ?
Past: October 13 → November 19, 2011
For her first solo show at the Galerie Christophe Gaillard from October 13 to November 19 2011, Isabelle Le Minh will present a set of recent pieces, most of which were produced especially for the exhibition.
A graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie of Arles, the artist started out by working on the photographic representation of the real before extending her field of investigation a few years ago to the question of the image and to the domain of contemporary art. Since then, she has been conceiving and producing resolutely conceptual pieces that play on words, signs and cultural codes, integrating tributes, quotes and détournements in a more or less overt fashion. Le Minh had her first major exhibition at the Wharf, Centre d’Art Contemporain de Basse-Normandie, in January 2009. More recently, her work was shown at the Salon de Montrouge and in a group show at the Galerie Christophe Gaillard last January, “The Title as the curator’s art piece”.
The title of this show is itself a reference to art history, more specifically to Minimal and Conceptual art, since it reprises a famous question asked to Tony Smith about his steel cube (Die, 1962) in a conversation quoted by the artist Robert Morris in an article entitled Notes on Sculpture (Artforum, October 1966), then by the art historian Michael Fried in his essay Art and Objecthood (1967). If Isabelle Le Minh is fond of using quotes, she also has a keen sense of the absurd — sometimes tinged with melancholy —, a passion for inventories and a taste for inanity; thus, the question Why didn’t you make it larger? ironically references the object of this exhibition, namely the artistic gesture and the context of art, but also the way in which artists and their work are perceived in today’s society.
How to be an amazing artist, title your work of art, or even get invited to an exhibit openings in New York City? The artist found the answer to these big questions on the collaborative website WikiHow, whose best “recipes” she mischievously hijacked (A Copy of the liar, the copy of the liar, after Francis Alÿs, 2011). If these recipes express a stereotypical vision of what artist is for the “mainstream public” the representations offered by specialized publications are no less idealised, as is shown in the video This is the artist — a compilation of nearly one thousand portraits of artists drawn from monographs and classified according to archetypal poses — or the photographic assemblages of the Don’t fence me in series (2011).
The theory of art and the formal conventions that govern the system of books are highlighted in Entrée/Sortie (2011), a set of art theory books assembled according to the rules of the French “jeu des kyrielles”, in which the last syllable of a phrase is reprised in the next phrase.
Finally, in the same playful spirit, Isabelle Le Minh attempts the inventory and classification of more or less famous artworks through a device — a printer spitting out mountains of paper over which a neon light looms — which seems to make fun of itself (Listing installation, 2009). By resorting to a language closer to bar-room conversations than to the often sibylline discourse of critics, she invites us to approach art through the anecdotal. In doing so, she offers, so to speak, a panoramic photography of contemporary art and asks — or so it would seem — the question of what there is left to do in the field…
Traduction: Denyse Beaulieu
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Isabelle Le Minh