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25 Jun 2008

Opening of Le revolver à cheveux blancs - 26 June 2008, 6 pm

Le revolver à cheveux blancs (The White-Haired Revolver)


Quentin Armand, Karim Ghelloussi, Ariel Schlesinger, Nebojša
Šerić Shoba, Sérgio Taborda, Kerstin Wagener, Tilman Wendland

Curated by Aurélie Voltz

27 June - 31 August 2008
Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 13.30 to 18.30

00 33 (0)2 54 55 37 45
00 33 (0)2 54 55 37 41


6 rue Franciade
F- 41000 Blois

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In an architecture that has been especially designed for the venue, viewers, in making their way through the exhibition, will discover a collection of hybrid works. Often fashioned from everyday objects that have ludicrous, unexpected or incongruous associations, these sculptures conjure up worlds that are quite different, drawing a line from the past through the present to the future. Inventions, reappropriations or mutations, it's impossible to know if these odd little objects correspond to the customs of our day and age, or if they, thumbing their nose, are holding out against their possible transformation.

Off in the distance, on a line running several meters that is depicted by the scrolls of a rocking chair, escaping apparently from a chiseled coffeepot, Karim Ghelloussi's sculpture Arabesque is displayed. The wooden elements, placed in precarious balance, play out a frozen moment of a gigantic eddying plume of smoke. Putting mental images on show (a poetics of the junkman with a strong dreamlike dimension to boot), Ghelloussi's sculptures clearly tell us that it's form that generates meaning, not the opposite. Doubtless this goes as well for the piece by Kerstin Wagener, which features a pair of used woman's shoes that are scorched and fitted out with feet and legs in the form of plastic bottles. The fusion—thematic, formal and unrefined just the same—is striking. The shoe's pink underside, like a shy, emotional way in, allays the violence of such an encounter. Blending the private with exterior facts, Wagener imbues her sculptures and paintings with the ambivalent accents of today's evolving world. It's likewise in the spirit of a hand-to-hand struggle that Sérgio Taborda's sculpture was designed. A bronze weight was modeled by hand to hold open the pages of a book by Samuel Beckett. Custom-made according to the volume, size and resistance of the book but also according to the author and the width of the printed text—here we are then, plunged in a relationship with materials both raw and intellectual. Made for each other, the weight and its book, or the book and its weight, in permanent tension, echo the theater of the absurd and the difficulty of communicating. Another hand-to-hand confrontation is Ariel Schlesinger's pair of scissors. Thanks to the artist's slight reworking of the object, changes that are invisible at first glance, the scissors have had their function undermined. The handle rings, where the fingers usually go, have been cut, preventing one from holding them while cutting, and the blades cross without in fact meeting. Displaying in its wear and tear (and hence its history) an eminently human aspect, its physical particularities lending it an individual personality, the pair of scissors also conjures up a new relationship to gesture: in the heart formed by the handle, we can imagine our fingers touching. A ringing phone suddenly breaks the silence of the exhibition and returns visitors to reality. A Shobaphone is a bakelite telephone handset with a connection for a Nokia at the end of the telephone cord. The object, associated with the name of its creator, seems like an extension of the body. That the object actually works—a numbered series exists for sale—undercuts the hoax to raise the possibility of a genuine bridge between different times, techniques and everyday things. The Shobaphone is part of the sculptures and other effective objects that Nebojša Šerić Shoba fills with historical, political and social symbols.

In the foreground a fish, tied to a cinderblock, has attempted suicide in a water puddle. It would seem we've only just missed the final act, the scene still exuding the sensational and the instantaneous. And maybe the odor of fresh fish, too. Quentin Armand is great fan of situations taken from life, rendering the dimension of the living in displays that are both light-hearted and pregnant with meaning when dealing with life itself. Fragments that open out to narratives tinged with derision and an imagination that is at times thoroughly over the top, photographs, sculptures and installations sweep us off into a hereafter that is nevertheless very much right here.

Often boasting a touch of the absurd, humor and poetry, these objects, which are unruly and on the point of flying off, engender a strange dialog with an architectural context inscribed in a certain spatial reality and corresponding to the concept of here and now. Tilman Wendland has specially designed an installation for the architecture of the exhibition pavilion. Independent of the pieces of sculpture that it stands near, the installation, made from a range of materials, has its own story. Playing with the openings and the transparency of this glass-enclosed volume, taking over the 200 m2 rectangle by engendering formal rhythms and sites, underscoring or reappropriating the venue's angles and edges, Wendland strives to create a new spatial situation in which the object-sculptures stand wherever they like.

Vis-à-vis the common thread that runs throughout the museum collection, whose roots go back to Surrealism among other movements, the show could be seen as a free derivation, an oblique view occasioned by current works of art. 'Le revolver à cheveux blancs' (The White-Haired Revolver) borrows its title from a turn of phrase by André Breton, that instigator of the imagination who made the randomly found object the stuff of all sorts of poetic, literary or formal interpretations. If we associate these qualities with Salvador Dalí's objects that function symbolically and are endowed with a mechanism for revealing the unconscious, we are dealing here with profoundly human objects then. Without directly laying claim to these references, the object-sculptures of the featured artists indeed spring from that way of thinking. Visitors complete the veiled reference to these agitators of the avant-garde by making their way through the show, an echo of the initiatory walks in Blois taken by several Surrealists in their day.