MUSAC - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León / Avenida de los Reyes Leoneses, 24
ES-24008 Leon

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artist / participant


press release

MUSAC, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, presents NOCTURAMA , the first one-person project in Spain by the acclaimed French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. Through both the spatial inter vention in the hal ls of Leon’s museum and the publication titled NOCTURAMA , the creator will unfold myr iad paths to help vis itors posi tion themselves within the contemplation and perception of a sophisticated work, full of references and essential in the international art scene.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (1965, Strasbourg, France) was educated at École de Beaux-Arts of Grenoble (1982-1987) and furthered her studies at École du Magasin of the National Centre of Contemporary Art of Grenoble and the Institute des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques of Paris. A versatile artist, she is versed in the realms of film, photography, installation, net-art, architecture and even fashion. In 2001 she won the RATP competition with a project for remodelling the Bonne Nouvelle underground station and in 2002 her work was honoured with the Marcel Duchamp Prize. Of particular note among her solo shows are Intérieurs—Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1994—Ipanema Theorie/Plages—Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2002— and Expodrome—Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris/ARC, Paris, 2007. Her projects for group shows have been equally lauded, such as those produced for Documenta 11 (2002), the 27th São Paulo Biennale (2006) and Skulptur Projekte Muenster (2007).

During recent years, Gonzalez-Foerster has become an essential referent in the European art scene, and her sophisticated body of work—and its aptitude for being connected and related through evocations and concealments—have inspired many creators of different disciplines, some of whom she has collaborated with. Thus, she has been sharing projects and standpoints with Phillipe Parreno since she met him when she was a student in Grenoble. Along with other French artists of her generation, such as Pierre Huyghe, they were responsible for the transformation of the French art scene of the nineties. Although each of them contributes their own vision, and it is venturesome to consider them a group, they are united by their interest in the transformation of the exhibition space and the reception of the artistic event, perhaps inspired by the controversial exhibition that François Lyotard set in motion at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1985, Les Immatériaux [The Immaterials], where the French philosopher, disciple of Merlau-Ponty, blatantly expressed the crisis of the book as an instrument for spreading ideas and the need for a contemporary thinker who would use other formats—or as he himself stated, the urgency of “the philosopher who decides that his job is to give us something to look at.” The exhibition, which included artists such as Daniel Buren and philosophers such as Jacques Derrida, excluded all formats that, like painting, were related to the visible gesture, instead fostering a new sensitivity for communication where visitors practiced or experienced reading through an implicit written narrative. Gonzalez-Foerster has repeatedly used space as a distinctive feature of her artistic practice. Her work comes from many places, sites and environments, which allude to emotional values while generating a sensitive landscape within the viewer. She began in the decade of the 90s by building a series of “chambers,” installations structured by subtle gestures that suggested a setting or situation where something had just happened. These encounters between memory, presence and body unleashed irrepressible evocations in the beholder, with unpredictable and occasionally unidentifiable results. They were—and still are—gestures materialised in the form of everyday objects, and it was in their associations that they were imbued with meanings. Undoubtedly, these were a prelude to the direction the French artist’s production was to take, as she became a creator of “environments” or “atmospheres” rather than exhibitions, where the elements function by creating a sort of mise-en-scène that immediately accentuates their spatial/architectural setting: “It’s an enviroment more than an exhibition,” writes the artist, “a potential space between reality and virtuality—quite pleasant to walk through, exciting to explore…”

One might say that Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s works are somehow “moments” and “environments” that are apparently heading for the void, absence, disappearance, waiting or partiality, but full of literary references or already written books that unfold in an exhibition space.

NOCTURAMA* : the exhibition In an essay titled The Forms of Time and the Chronotope in the Novel. Essays on Historical Poetics in his work Theory and Aesthetics of the Novel, the Russian linguist Mijaíl Bajtín (1895-1975), defined “chronotopes” as the connection of the temporal and spatial relations artistically assimilated in literature; a passage of time thickened in space and vice versa where both are intercepted and become visible to the beholder and appreciable from the aesthetic point of view. Bajtín explains in his work that the «represented world» and the “creator world” are firmly linked and constantly interacting, establishing a close connection between the work—the represented world—and social discursiveness—the creator world. The perception of the real world enters literature through the chronotopes: they play the main role in the configuration of the storyline, offering the main field for the representation of events in images. According to the definition of Bajtín, for whom chronotopes are the places where the narrative cruces are set up and undone, we can say that the meaning moulding the narration belongs to them, and they end up simultaneously making manifest the interior and exterior of texts.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerters presents NOCTURAMA* , a journey through specific times and identifiable, real places with which the French artist represents the world she tells. This new narrative consists of Promenade—a work produced with Chr is tophe Van Huf fel , an invisible piece whose film-inspired use of sound makes for a radically tropicalised place; Tapis de lecture, an invitation to rest surrounded by piles of books, a reservoir of possibilities—or the material sources of their fictions; Cinelandia , a selection of Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s films—some with Ange Leccia; Solar ium—with Ni colas Ghesquière, a space for luminous contemplation and reception; and lastly Nocturama , a new sitespecific production, a new environment. All of them are, in short, time machines capable of bringing about movement through space as if they were futurist teletransporters.

NOCTURAMA : the publication NOCTURAMA is the book, another place and time of the exhibition, where the artist has intervened on the paper-space. Edited by MUSAC and published by ACTAR, all the tools needed for exploring the world of the French artist will be displayed in it, not through visual material alone, but also through the essays of Ina Blom (Professor at the University of Oslo, Norway), Penelope Cur tis (Curator at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK), Jens Hoffman (Director of Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, USA) and Liset te Lagnado (Curator and Artistic Director of the 27th São Paulo Biennale), in addition to an interview with the writer Enr ique Vi la-Matas conducted by the artist herself, along with Hans Ul r ich Obr ist (co-Director of the Serpentine Gallery, London, UK), in which literary creation becomes the main protagonist.