February 10th, 2013

“The Magic Bullet” at TORRI

Artists: Je­re­my Shaw, Rob Pruitt, Ge­ne­ral Idea, Ber­ger & Ber­ger

Venue: TORRI, Paris

Exhibition Title: The Magic Bullet

Date: January 1 – February 16, 2013

Click here to view slideshow

Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.


Images courtesy of TORRI, Paris

Press Release:

On view for the first time in France, Magi© Bul­let (1992), is em­ble­ma­tic of the play­ful-​pop-​po­li­ti­cal work of Ca­na­dian trio Ge­ne­ral Idea. Floo­ding the gal­le­ry cei­ling with do­zens of he­lium-​in­fla­ted sil­ver pills, the work mir­rors the phy­si­cal reac­tion to drugs with the hear­ty bal­loons shrin­king over time to pro­gres­si­ve­ly lose their weight­less­ness and fall, one by one, to the floor. Vi­si­tors are in­vi­ted to take these inert, fal­len en­ve­lopes with them when they go, tur­ning ano­ther page in the life of the Magi© Bul­let. The “get­ting high then down” me­ta­phor is also a re­flec­tion of the dis­se­mi­na­tion of HIV that so pro­found­ly mar­ked the gay com­mu­ni­ty in the late XXth cen­tu­ry, clai­ming the lives of two mem­bers of Ge­ne­ral Idea.

With Magi© Bul­let, Ge­ne­ral Idea pro­claim the ne­ces­si­ty of nou­ri­shing forms that draw on the so­cie­tal pro­blems of their time, dis­re­gar­ding is­sues of co­py­right and ques­tions of for­mal dis­tinc­tion. “We en­te­red his­to­ry, sei­zed hold of images, emp­tied them of mea­ning, and re­du­ced them to shells. Then we filled the shells with gla­mour, the crea­my puff-​pas­try in­no­cence of va­cui­ty, the awful si­lence of shark fins cut­ting through oily water” they said. There is a clear re­fe­rence to Andy Wa­rhol’s Sil­ver Clouds (1966), whose play­ful cha­rac­ter is un­der­mi­ned by the fa­te­ful de­cline.

The en­tire ex­hib­tion that takes shape around Magi© Bul­let par­takes in a game of ma­ni­pu­la­tion and re­fe­ren­tial back and forth.

Per­ched in the cor­ner, echoing the Pe­tro­grad ex­hi­bi­tion-​ma­ni­fes­to “0.​10” of 1915, Ca­na­dian Je­re­my Shaw’s Green square on white (2012)re­prises Ma­le­vitch’s Black Square in the green paint used for video com­po­si­ting. It’s the green that is eva­cua­ted to ar­ti­fi­cial­ly re­con­tex­tua­lize a fil­med sub­ject, the green of po­ten­tial ap­pa­ri­tion and pro­jec­tion. Je­re­my Shaw per­fect­ly coun­ter­ba­lances the re­pre­sen­ta­tio­nal ta­bu­la rasa of the Su­pre­ma­tist mas­ter. On the contra­ry, here the mo­no­chrome is concei­ved as the preamble to a motif: wai­ting, in­vi­ting, ready to re­cede.

Rob Pruitt also ma­ni­pu­lates the grand his­to­ry of the mo­no­chrome with cha­rac­te­ris­tic ma­lice. His Mo­ther Earth (2012) plays with Ame­ri­can mo­der­nist pic­to­rial codes in its tit­ling, for­mat, and chro­ma­tic vo­lup­tuous­ness: a sca­ri­fying line dra­wing. We could ea­si­ly see the zest of a Lucio Fon­ta­na-​like la­ce­ra­ting van­dal, but the sim­pli­ci­ty evident in the motif ins­tead makes a sen­sual case for a be­ne­volent na­ture.

Last­ly, the duo Ber­ger & Ber­ger, re­cent­ly ex­hi­bi­ted at the gal­le­ry, put on their ar­chi­tect’s hat to re­spond to a simple com­mis­sion: as the Magi© Bul­let, bal­loons cover the gal­le­ry ligh­ting, how can the ex­hi­bi­tion be lit. What bet­ter ho­mage to Ge­ne­ral Idea’s work than to re­think one of their light pieces, 1993’s Magic Car­pet. They contri­bute a cube of neon that, come night­fall, in­un­dates the space with its cold light. Slight­ly ele­va­ted by two la­te­ral slides, it seems, like the en­tire ex­hi­bi­tion, to exist in a state of le­vi­ta­tion.

Link: “The Magic Bullet” at TORRI

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