Caroline Achaintre, Scoli Acosta, Jean-Marc Ballée, Benjamin Bonjour, Jeremy Deller, Armen Eloyan, David Evrard, Richard Fauguet, Charles Fréger, Estelle Hanania, Cameron Jamie, Adam Janes, Augustin Lesage, Basim Magdy, Theo Michael, Jorge Pedro Nuñez & Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann, Ernesto Sartori, Jeffrey Vallance, Marnie Weber

Vernacular Alchemists

6 Jun — 30 Aug 2014

The title of the exhibition is a quote from an essay by John C. Welchman ¹ written in 1999 about Mike Kelley’s works. He referred to the attraction of the recently disappeared artists to forms we call “popular” – or at least outside of the values system established in the art world –, to his ability to develop “narrative strategies” as absurd as erudite, and also to the vernacular appropriation. The Vernacular Alchemists here evoked can be placed in this lineage and will to “shut down traditional disciplines whose logic is based on authenticity and originality” ², while seeking to reveal the hidden face of our society.

However, if they show a particular interest in popular culture, they have exceeded the dichotomy between high and low culture, as seen since the mid-80’s. They are thus fully aware that these forms of alternative or underground culture are now assimilated into contemporary society, from the mainstream industry to the most prestigious museums. While the advocates of High & Low, mainly part of the West Coast scene and some now legendary exhibitions, do not hesitate to confront heterogeneous ideas, concepts and references, calling a nonchalance and an "aesthetic of cool" one could consider as typically Californian, the artists presented here rather tend to adopt a critical stance vis-à-vis this brutalist/appropriationist approach, including freeing the counter-cultural logic of their post-punk peers. Their approach is closer from alchemy, an attempt of transformation, transmutation that goes beyond the “simple” manipulation of pre-existing elements.

Whether they revisit forms of vernacular culture, folk, pagan or paganistic traditions, call ancient or more... [lire plus]

1. John C. Welchman, « The Mike Kelleys », in Mike Kelley (under the direction of Isabelle Graw, Anthony Vidler and John C. Welchman), Londres, Phaidon Press, 1999, p. 87

2. Hal Foster, « Re : post (Riposte) », in L’époque, la mode, la morale, la passion. Aspects de l’art d’aujourd’hui, 1977-1987, Paris, Éditions du Centre Pompidou, 1987, p. 466

Curators : Antoine Marchand and Etienne Bernard