Les monuments invisibles
Les monuments invisibles
Past: May 26 → July 21, 2012
This year, as part of the annual foreign curator in residence programme, La Galerie is welcoming Costanza Paissan, from Italy. Chosen by a judging panel after a call for candidates, she will be in residence from April to July 2012 and will devote her time at La Galerie to her Invisible Monuments project.
In his essay “Monuments”, in Posthumous Papers of a Living Author (1936), Austrian writer Robert Musil addresses the question of how monuments are perceived, describing them as “invisible” and “impregnated with something that repels attention.” The Invisible Monuments exhibition takes Musil’s paradox of vision and attention as its starting point: monuments, while intended to attract the eye, are in fact imperceptible and “gaze-repellent” — refractory to both sight and understanding. They exist, but are not alive. They occupy a space both real and ideal, but are empty, transparent, indeterminate. At variance with our senses, they slip out of view. What does this imply for those great tributes to the past, those statues of heroes and those buildings dedicated to “memorable” moments? Where are the traces of those who have gone before us, our exemplars for the present and the pillars on which to build the future?
The works by the artists taking part in this exhibition — Fayçal Baghriche, Eric Baudelaire, Tomaso De Luca, Goldiechiari, Iris Touliatou et Stefanos Tsivopoulous — challenge the notion of the monument: its function, value and meaning in today’s world. This critical conjecturing has its roots in an artefact that has always been characterised by a powerful symbolic charge and conspicuous conceptual depth. The monument is not merely an artwork or a piece of architecture set in the public space: it is above all intended as an embodiment of a memory, a repository for personal or group recollection and a bearer of a message through time.
Recognition of the fragility of this relationship between form and substance is not solely a challenge to the monument’s meaning: it also questions the value of its content.
Are history and memory still “visible”? If not, where have they gone? Are there still images, ideas, words and voices capable of filling the monument, of replenishing its emptied volume? The works on show challenge and criticise the concept of the monument, pointing up its fragility and suggesting both new interpretations and hitherto untested interconnections with history and its traces. These artists are speaking to us about the past and memory as shifting elements, endowed with a variable, flexible identity and the blurry contours of truth and fiction, forgetting and remembering.
The traditionally affirmative function of the monument — celebration and commemoration of a past given material existence in the present and projected forward into the future — is supplanted here by new modalities based on questioning, doubt and critical scrutiny. What once was presence turns into absence; what once took the form of an affirmation turns into a question.
The pars destruens of the project nonetheless does not exclude an imaginatively constructive urge, a way of injecting life into images, shapes, spaces and ideas capable of generating a meditation on the past, a reflection on “today”, a narrative looking to the future. The monument has not vanished: by taking on other forms it still shows through on a secret, hidden stage, clad in a new, magical robe woven from questions and doubts rather than truths taken for granted.
Guest curator: Costanza Paissan as part of La Galerie’s annual residency for curator
Opening Friday, May 25, 2012 6 PM → 9 PM
1 rue Jean-Jaurès
T. 01 49 42 67 17
Tuesday – Saturday, 2 PM – 6 PM
Saturday, 2 PM – 7 PM
- Fayçal Baghriche
Tomaso De Luca