Pompidou in Tokyo

A glamourous marquee of lights, a blinding reception desk, scratching sound, screaming children or piano tunes. Entering the exhibition of Philippe Parreno at Palais de Tokyo is impressive. A huge pixelated screen at the end of the vast first floor draws the attention. Alternating images of flowers, the face of a newborn, a squid or a mechanical writing machine from the 18th century.
Strolling through the beautiful other spaces, always slightly unsettled by the omnipresent flickering lights, is like being on an artistic expedition. Hidden behind a rotating bookcase (Dominique Gonzales-Foerster, La Bibliothèque clandestine, 2013) one finds an exhibition by John Cage and Merce Cunningham (A Reenactement: Margarete Roeder Gallery, 2002-2013), behind a huge projection of „Marylin, 2012“ appears a heap of snow, in a marred, raw theater space a girl talks (Tino Sehgal, Annlee, 2011). Attracted by more screams one walks down some stairs and enters a room full of projections showing „Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, 2006“ (Douglas Gordon, Philippe Parreno). But being down there the impression of the surrounding space itself becomes stronger than the actual piece. Supported by the flickering lights, a post-industrial, post apocalyptic or maybe even extraterrestrial atmosphere culminated.
Of course the overall setting, the Palais de Tokyo itself, becomes a piece of art. As the leaflet says: The visitor is invited into a choreography. Spending some time in the exhibition really takes you „Anywhere, Anywhere Out of the World“ as the title promises. But maybe a little bit too far.

After the visit I wasn’t sure if I was just overpowered by a spectacular setting.

Unfortunately not spectacular enough was the setting of Pierre Huyghe’s solo show at Centre Pompidou. Of course I was pleased to meet again the dog with the pink leg (Human, 2011-2013) and the sculpture with the bees-head, „Untilled (Liegender Frauenakt), 2012“ (sic!) from documenta13.
But all those raw plaster walls are too pretentious and they are narrowing the space to a point where they just obstruct the view. Why does an artist project an epic loop of his excellent films in an angle where only five people can sit and other visitors constantly run by stooped down?
Sometimes performances happened. I spent about 2h in the crowded exhibition, also hold back by the feeling of not wanting to miss something, but mainly because I waited for a moment to find some space in an uncomfortable corner to watch some videos.
Of course Huyghe’s show is supposed to be work in progress. But I’m not living in Paris, so I probably miss a lot. Huyghe’s work doesn’t fit the Centre Pompidou. The contrast of the exhibition space and his oeuvre is not enriching but interfering.
Another thought: I would have appreciated the exhibition a lot more if there would have been some admission limits. If an artist works with performances I would like to be able to see and enjoy them. Especially when the performances are not meant to be random.

Although both Parreno’s and Huyghe’s exhibitions are impressive, Paris missed the chance of hosting the show of the year. Just imagine Huyghe’s dog straying through Palais de Tokyo. The artists have a long tradition of collaborating. „No Ghost Just a Shell“ (1999-2003) appears in Pompidou and Tokyo anyways and there is ice and other similarities in both. United at Palais de Tokyo they would have set up a mind-blowing exhibition. And in Pompidou they could have contrasted the Tokyo with a completely different set.

Next time!

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