Bon Moment

Such A “Bon Moment” That Macron Was On Hand To Unveil The 17th Festival Croisements At Red Brick Art Museum

On April 5, the opening ceremony of the 17th Festival Croisements was held at the Red Brick Art Museum. The President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, was on hand to unveil the event. Meanwhile, “Bon Moment,” a joint exhibition of French and Chinese contemporary art, opened at the Museum, which presented the permanent exhibition “Arsenal” by Anselm Kiefer, an artist in France, and “Angling,” Shen Yuan’s solo exhibition.

Such A “Bon Moment”

The essence of cultivation is to catch up with the bon moment…After the Start of Spring, as the land thaws, the chi from earth begins to flow, and the soil loosens for the first time.

——Book of Fan Shengzhi, Western Han Dynasty

“Bon Moment,” a cross-cultural exhibition of French and Chinese contemporary art, echoes Festival Croisements, which has reached its 17th edition. During this bon moment, we invited 13 Chinese artists, French artists and artists visiting France, including Mircea Cantor, Cao Fei, Clément Cogitore, Hao Liang, Camille Henrot, Huang Yongping, Jia Aili, Li Nu, Liang Yuanwei, Laure Prouvost, Tao Hui, Tatiana Trouve, and Yan Bing. Their artistic practice approaches topics such as the earth, humans, animals, mythology, the unknown, loneliness, fatigue, death and renewal, creating a transcendent landscape of the world for us.

Li Nu’s group of works about “Mundus” open another dimension of perceiving the world differently. The hole known as mundus is a massive navel in a reclining position sculpted in Chinese white marble, that the ancient Romans dug to connect the Gods under the earth and beyond the sky. Ancient people’s longitudinal understanding of the world was different from contemporary people’s transverse cognition. It is such difference that is necessary for us to reflect on facing the world at present.

Cao Fei’s Asia One presents a facet of the future “Utopia.” This film envisions that in a large automated logistics center “Asia One Unmanned Warehouse,” with only one young female worker, a male worker, and a cute AI robot (the daily company of the female worker) working inside. They seem to have fallen into an emotional entanglement between the “unmanned” (intelligentized production), “human,” and “non-human” (robot).

The problems Cao Fei has put forward are sophisticated and serious – the effect of computers, the Internet, artificial intelligence, unmanned factories, etc. in industry, society and even globalization, in the “evolution” of workers or people, is itself a “myth” and “utopia,” but in what role and posture will it appear in this grand historical narrative?

Such questioning also exists in Mircea Cantor’s work. In the film Aquila Non Capit Muscas, the artist delicately arranges a confrontation: an eagle, the King of the Skies, who has nourished so many ancestral legends, and on the other hand is a drone, an icon of technological victory. The inner power and the determination of the hawk lead to imagine a target that isn’t revealed after a few seconds. We wonder: who will be the winner, the eagle or the drone? It is not only esthetical and philosophical but also an obscure critique of the power structure behind technology.

Tao Hui’s Smoke and Light documents the laser’s drawing process of making texts and patterns. The design of the writing system and the patterns imitates the elements of commercial design, while the text describes the artist’s observation of the new technology and the current situation of human beings, thus enabling us to re-examine the relationship between themselves and technology under the given visual habits of the public.

Camille Henrot’s long visual poem, Grosse Fatigue, is made of collages of images found on the Internet and within the Smithsonian Institute where the artist resided. She co-wrote the text with the poet Jacob Bromberg, trying to give an account of the history of the universe. The set of chaotic appearance is restated by the rhythm of Spoken Word, creating a structurally anxious environment under the superposition of ideology, globalization, belief, and new media as well as exploring the meaning of humans as both personal individuals and the world’s subject.

Clément Cogitore’s work, Les Indes Galantes, is inspired by the namesake opera-ballet created by Jean Philippe Rameau in 1735. Both of them present a group of young people dancing on the edge of busting out – triggering humanistic, poetic, and political resonance. Although it is limited in territory history, it is deeply rooted in humans’ reality and hidden within the fear and hope arising from cultural communications.

Laure Prouvost’s work, Into All That Is Here, explores ways to define desire after darkness disappears. The abundant and glamorous voice-over seemingly mixes the sounds of whistles, slurps, and kisses, and continuously questions the audience; The dynamic jump cut makes the views wander between the blossoming flowers, the shaking lights, the fountains, the GPS screens, the remote controls, and static-frame screenshots. All the images fleet like memories, as if repeatedly emphasizing the fading and precious physical sensations.

In the rapid changes and chaos of the outer world, Liang Yuanwei insists on reaching a more real self so that the perceptions confined to the painting process can fully emerge. Jia Aili chooses to start from himself and explore the reasons for individual existence. With his fierce and explosive brushstrokes, he narrates the young generation’s psychological mirroring in the constructed imaginary scenes, in the apocalyptic ruins situations.

Yan Bing probes into the spiritual dimension through painting. What’s hidden behind the brushwork of almonds and mushrooms is the artist’s temperature of life cognition. Hao Liang travels and reflects between the past and the future with Chinese ink wash as a vehicle to imagine spacetime, to re-perceive and explore humans’ position in history and the universe.

Where exactly do we stand? The reversing world in Tatiana Trouve’s 750 Points Towards Infinity breaks gravity, constantly reminding us to pursue infinite energy.

Huang Yongping’s Circus “is not only an extension of P.T.Barnum’s circus, but is a circus of headless animals, or headless animals visiting a marionette theater, or headless animals taking the place of human beings, or headless animals as the embodiment of human beings.” In the symbolic structure of the Circus, the headless animals, monkey skeletons, and giant hands are not in a one-way chain of controlling and being controlled, presenting a world full of dramatic tensions.

Shen Yuan: Angling

Shen Yuan sets up Pêcher l’air de Paris 2020 as the milestone of the entire route in the exhibition space, inspired by Duchamp’s well-known Air de Paris (1919) and Fresh Widow (1920). Duchamp bought a small bottle in Paris in 1919 and brought the air from Paris to the United States in it. This work, one of his earliest readymades, is a very interesting work about immigration. Shen Yuan’s Pêcher l’air de Paris 2020 also quotes Huang Yongping’s Le sage suivant l’exemple de l’araignée tissant sa toile (1994) to pay her homage to her lifelong partner. Therefore, Shen Yuan complicates Duchamp’s and Huang Yongping’s dual word games and carries her work further toward another entrapping game of words. The work seems to be finished together by three people, embodying a circulating relationship: Duchamp and women, Huang Yongping and Duchamp, Shen Yuan and Huang Yongping.

Anselm Kiefer · Arsenal

“Arsenal is where I collect things unfinished, books, photos, writings… Things that I find in this world… Like mushrooms, mussels…all kinds of things. These all collected there, you see all the misery in the world in there. My arsenal corresponds to the synapses in my brain. I go for a walk in my brain and it sparks up all the time.”
– Anselm Kiefer

If “such eventful sparkles arising from the temporal flows in the history of human civilization are worth contemplating and delving deeper into,” exhibitions “Bon Moment” “Arsenal” and “Angling” provide us with more diverse perspectives from daily reality to virtual spacetime to reflect the present and the world from different dimensions…

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