Elisa Rigoulet
Paris & Brussels based curator and writer
Co-Founder of Exo Exo http://exoexo.xyz


Barbarie, 2013
La générale en Manufacture, Sèvres (FR)

Cyril Aboucaya, Hugues Allarmagot, Eric Baudart, Nathalie Bles, Rada Boukova, Benjamin Bruneau, Arnaud Dezoteux, Dominique Forest, Sylvain Gelinotte, Jérôme Guigue, Elodie Huet, Sloan Leblanc, Stéphanie Lefebvre, Jean-Baptiste Lenglet, Frédérique Manceau, Erik Minkkinen, Benoît Ménard, Caroline Mesquita, Marc Moret, Otto Muehlethaler, Caroline Pradal, Andres Ramirez, Jean Recoura, Derek Sullivan, Sami Trabelsi, Thu Van Tran

The semantic nature of the word “barbarism” is interesting insofar as everyone understands it in a way that best suits them. “The real barbarian is the man who believes in barbarism,” wrote Claude Lévi-Strauss. The quasi-arbitrary status of the word makes it susceptible to repeated redefinition, depending on one’s perspective. In the context of this project, I understand barbarism as an attempt to approach the other through the meeting of artworks, as well as through the visitor’s engagement with the exhibition.

The works presented here are all especially suggestive. They are postures, gestures, attempts to apprehend their context, to establish a mechanism with limited and restrictive means. They are like frameworks trying to envelop or support that which is absent or invisible. It almost seems as though Benoît Ménard’s installation, Sylvain Gelinotte’s drawings, Caroline Pradal’s collages or Derek Sullivan’s laser-cut fabrics are fabricated out of nothingness. The structure, the pencil line, scotch-tape or tissue, are like inscriptions in the negative, suspended on the edge of disappearance.

What emerges out of this emptiness is the essence of an expression, a language, a primary gesture. This elementary form is the trace of what survives as the V of Rada Boukova’s “Victory”, as it verges on disappearance. In their starkness, these works are an exercise in brutality, in Mark Rothko’s poetic sense: “All primitive expression reveals the constant awareness of powerful forces, the immediate presence of terror and fear, the recognition and the acceptance of the brutality of the natural world as well as the eternal insecurity of life.” Whether in Jérôme Guigue’s river of light or Dominique Forest’s filmed situations, we find in these brutal productions something wild, something stammering, sketched, incomplete.

These works serve a double function. They are a testimony of loss, and sorts of vacant spaces. They are a remainder, and an invitation. Stéphanie Lefebvre’s fond perdu or Thu Van Tran’s rejet are what remains of something, but also what pre-exists or co-exists as hints of other works. The interspace of this exhibition reveals our conflicted engagement with the other, as well as the visitor’s relationship with the artwork. With their rudimentary strength, these works become spaces of emotional, elemental, investment. Their lack of pageantry adds a singular sense of sincerity. It is because they are not intended to seduce us that, in their duality, they maintain a dissonant relationship with each other and with the visitor, a reflection of their discordant correlation to reality itself.

Barbarie, 2013 Installation views