Artist: Claire Fontaine
Venue: House of Gaga / Reena Spaulings, Los Angeles
Exhibition Title: Happy For No Reason
Date: September 9 – October 20, 2018
Note: A publication associated with the exhibition is available for download here.
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of House of Gaga / Reena Spaulings, Los Angeles
Happy For No Reason is an exhibition crossed by several streams of questions. Technical reproduction, hijacking and quotations of art-historical references are some of the paths that can be taken to travel through the show.
L.G.B.T.Q. post-card rack creates a ready-made reminiscent of Duchamp’s détournement of the Mona Lisa (with and without a moustache) under which he had written L.H.O.O.Q. (She has a hot ass): Claire Fontaine transforms this playful gesture into a statement about gender ambiguity (largely present in Leonardo’s paintings) and a message that can be taken home or sent off as a post-card about the general confusion of our sexual identities and desires.
The experience of peering at images through screens that, being fragile, often break is typically contemporary. The two light-boxes Lament and Don’t fix it reproduce, through the aesthetics of advertising light-boxes that are found in airports and shopping malls, images seen through a cracked phone screen. Covering a detail of Giotto’s Mourning over dead Christ and a photograph of Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Naked by her Bachelors Even the breakages modify our perception of both forms and contents and, once enlarged, appear as irreparable.
My Ass is a sculpture that references the rumor according to which the true author of the urinal was Dadaist artist and poet Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, a close friend of Duchamp giving him the nickname of M’Ars (a pun playing on the sounds ‘Mars’, the god of war, and ‘my ass’). The bidet functions as a feminized counterpoint to the iconic urinal, whose aura is resolutely masculine.
Evil/Good quotes the familiar Apple logo but without its characteristic missing part, as if Eve’s original sin never took place and the separation between good and evil, false and true were still in place.
I, We, Yes; Je communique, ils surveillent; On vous intoxique and Retour à la normale hijack posters made in the Paris’s Ècole de Beaux-Arts silkscreen studios in May ’68. These silkscreens have been reproduced and transformed, preserving the imperfections of their original versions.
Anemic Moon displays an image lifted from a campaign of the Egyptian Red Crescent inviting people to donate blood. Red liquid flows into an arm from a crescent moon, strongly suggesting that help and compassion instead of war are needed in the Muslim world. Claire Fontaine’s reflection on the fragility of private property in our society is pursued in two sculptures.
2228 W. 7th Street, 2nd Floor (entrance on S. Grand View St.), Los Angeles, CA 90057 is a copy of the gallery keys made out of a soft metallic alloy realized with the technique of instant moulding borrowed from the FBI. The keys can only be used once to enter the gallery without permission, therefore they have a use value, but it’s use destroys the artwork by making it into a tool.
The Passe-Partout (Hollywood) http://www.lysator.liu.se/mit-guide/mit-guide.html http://www.hackerethic.org http://www.lockpicks.com http://www.lockpicking101.com http://www.gregmiller.net/locks/makelockpicks.html references the #metoo scandal that shook the American movie industry in the past years and evokes the contradictions of a world that creates dangerously frustrating desires in its audience and at its core. Passe-partouts are an ongoing series of sculptures fabricated from anonymous instructions given to possible thieves that anyone can find on line. They imply a certain number of artisanal manipulations on vulgar and cheap objects (saw blades, bicycle spokes, paper clips). But the potential use value present within the object alludes to the possibility of troubling the usual circulation of private property and inevitably evokes the problematic of theft and appropriation. The addition of small touristic gadgets introduces an ironic glance on the relationship of the artists to work-related trips and the gains or losses that accompany them. The passe-partouts are also small metaphors of unofficial means that are used to open all sorts of doors that one often finds closed in everyday life.
Newsfloor is an immersive site-specific installation that sensibly alters the perception of the white cube, giving to the space a feeling of floatation. The conceptual background of the work is related to both the primary and the secondary use of newsprint, with the dematerialization of information and the online availability of its content, printed press has become increasingly devalued and can literally be used to walk upon. The processes referred to as “fake news” are in fact structural adjustments of the role of journalism in an increasingly decaying democracy that can no longer protect free press.