PRIZE 2008 THE CONSISTENCY OF THE VISIBLE
The Fondation d’entreprise Ricard will present the exhibition « The consistency of the visible » from October 10 to November 22. Nicolas Bourriaud will serve as curator for the exhibition.
For the 10th anniversary of the Prix, he has decided to add a « critical preamble » bringing together both « historical » and confirmed artists to the usual concept – the presentation of artists emerging on the young French scene.
The exhibition will also feature a gathering of « fetishes » by way of preamble: works by Erik Dietman, Raymond Hains, Pierre Joseph, Roman Opalka, Bertrand Lavier, Edouard Levé, and Agnès Varda. Nicolas Bourriaud also wanted to pay tribute to « two key players in French art, » Pierre Restany and Bernard Lamarche-Vadel. In his view, « they shared an independence of mind and a comparable commitment to the French art scene » despite their dissimilar paths and the fact that they belonged to different generations.
In fact, Nicolas Bourriaud himself took inspiration from Bernard Lamarche-Vadel’s phrase, which gives its title to the exhibition: « Thus what we consider in the visible, in the work of art, should be first and foremost the consistency of an extreme doubt about the consistency of the visible. »
During the exhibition, the Fondation d’entreprise Ricard will once again partner with the FIAC (Foire International d’Art Contemporain) through its support of the Young Curator’s Invitation program, which allows young foreign art critics to meet artists active on the French scene. The Fondation is also joining with FIAC-TV, which will present a selection of news features on the arts at the FIAC and on the Internet.
During the FIAC, the work of Christophe Berdaguer and Marie Péjus, the 2007 recipients of the Prix de la Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, will be presented as a gift to the Centre Pompidou and featured in the permanent collections of the Musée National d’Art Moderne.
« For the 10th anniversary of the Prix Ricard, I thought it was important to complement the usual setup for the exhibition (a thematic presentation of artists emerging on the French scene) with a critical preamble bringing together « historical » and confirmed artists. This collection of works raises very simple questions: What are the boundaries of a work? Through which gesture does it inaugurate its territory, stage its limits, draw the perimeter of what it aims to explore? The concept of « bricolage » [« fiddling, » « tinkering »] by which Lévi-Strauss defines mythological thought led me to present this subjective narrative in the form of a collection of fetishes – objects which, in spite of an apparent wealth of details, refer to a complex thought and encapsulate it in its totality, in the manner of holograms.
This question of the « composition plan » of a work, however, is neither innocent nor gratuitous. It has implications for the present selection of « young artists, » which in turn takes it further.
On the one hand, it emphasizes the importance of the inaugural gesture, of the necessity, in order to produce a work, to constitute a territory and define a specific way of traveling it. Many artists nowadays satisfy themselves with the production of objects out of a vague thematic concern, more often than not borrowed from the contemporary ideological vademecum. In such a context, it is worth recalling that a work has more to do with an expedition than with a stroll through the galleries district.
On the other hand, the question also points to an unexpected commonality – probably the only one – between two key players in French art to whom this exhibition would like to pay homage: Pierre Restany et Bernard Lamarche-Vadel. They were two masters in singularity for the young critic I aspired to be at the turn of the 1990s. The « technological humanism » of the former, turned towards social production and the totalization of the visible, and the subtle aristocratic spirit of the latter, attracted to singularities and the inexpressible, besides the fact that they belonged to different generations, made for two dissimilar paths. Still, they shared an independence of mind and a comparable commitment to the French art scene.
In 1960 Restany hailed « the expressive autonomy of the real » in launching the movement of the Nouveaux Réalistes, which stressed the radical gesture of « direct appropriation, » the foundation of any artistic practice (« the automatic manifestation of sensitivity ») as an immersion in the new « urban nature. » Twenty-six years later, Lamarche-Vadel brought together the eleven artists of his exhibition « Qu’est-ce que l’art français? » [« What is French art? »] as a function of the relevance of their « posture » or their « processes, » that is, the invention of « means to turn (their) existence into processes during the production of the work. » In my opinion these two statements, so different on the surface, do constitute two sides of a similar conceptual ambition.
The ten artists I have selected for this 10th Prix Ricard represent responses to these two questions, as their works are underpinned both by collective sensitivity and a personal composition plan, surfing the waves of the social at the same time as they take their distances from it through a singular starting point. All of them could subscribe to Bernard Lamarche-Vadel’s phrase, which gives the exhibition its title: « Thus what we consider in the visible, in the work of art, should be first and foremost the consistency of an extreme doubt about the consistency of the visible. »