press release

28.01.2023 - 28.01.2024

Le Retour. New exhibition of the collections

Abdelkader BENCHAMMA, Andrea BÜTTNER, Nina CHILDRESS, Robert CRUMB, DADO, Lubaina HIMID, Judith HOPF, Laëtitia BADAUT HAUSSMANN, Pierre JOSEPH, Nathalie DU PASQUIER, Anne-Lise COSTE, Élisabeth BALLET, Bernard BAZILE, Linus BILL & Adrien HORNI Jean-François BOCLÉ, Bruno BOTELLA, Nicolas DESHAYES, Gaëlle Gabillet & Stéphane Villard Studio GGSV, Anthea HAMILTON, David HORVITZ, Özgür KAR, Cécile NOGUÈS, Jim SHAW, Achraf TOULOUB, Nora TURATO, Caroline TSCHUMI, Yuyan WANG

Curator: Juliette Pollet, curator at Cnap and Clément Nouet


Under the bed. In the closet. In the mirror. They come back.

In contrast to thematic exhibitions or the apparent neutrality of museum collections, "The Return" is organized like a paranoid delirium, a nightmare or a trip: from a central gap. One will not know for whom, for what, the Hollywood drums of the title hum. This story, however, is "nothing personal". To paraphrase Jim Shaw, one of the artists in the exhibition, we hope that what we make from our dreams is not up to us.

The works collected are, in some ways, familiar. Many of them draw their material from the everyday, from the domestic and commercial world. They feed on the contemporary overproduction of clichés and things. Many of them take pains to divert, even sabotage, the way images circulate in digital pipes. The exhibition opens with a film by Yuyan Wang, One thousand and one attempts to be an ocean (2020), edited from hundreds of oddly satisfying Youtube video sequences - saws that turn out, in the long run, to be less harmless than they seem. What persists is their strangeness, obviously disturbing. We witness, hypnotized, the "evolution of surrealism as a revolutionary force working inside a publicity trick" - to deviate again the words of Jim Shaw.

Through the backwash of images and the glue of objects, "The Return" lets memories, fears and desires emerge, no sooner repressed than they return. In the department of symptoms and transfers, we find the whole clinical panoply: fetish, doppelgänger, libidinal fixation, terror of the other and above all, a lot of melancholy. None of the collected works, however, shows any complacency for the inner torment of the subject. Irony is a safeguard. Under titles that are too explicit to be honest, the works Mood Disorder, by David Horvitz, or Death, by Ozgür Kar, reveal themselves to be as snide as one could wish. Thus, the soliloquizing skeleton put in a box by the latter calls out to us: "Hey! Hey, you there! Are you naive? Isn't that a scary question?

Underneath the seductive surfaces - LEDs and glazes - everything is actually corrupted, tendentious, joyfully dysfunctional: paint and pixels contaminate each other, the wallpaper adorns the white cube, the sculptures are soft, even flaccid. The works gathered for "The Return" never stop teasing the great modernist precepts, the purity of the medium and all the rest. Beyond art, it is about vital impulse. The strategies of hybridization, the desire of transmutation seem to run from a piece to the other: artist-bird, man-woman-computer, bidet-ass. To escape from the fixed form, from the category, appears as a strategy of resistance in front of an alienating reality. Neither regression, nor retreat: "The Return" attempts a step aside.

This exhibition of collections is the new episode in an ongoing series: the long complicity between the Cnap and the Mrac. A new selection of works from the national contemporary art fund, most of them recently acquired, will take up residence in the rooms of the museum, in dialogue with the regional collection, for one year. The twenty-nine artists thus gathered, of all generations, work in Europe - half in France - and in the United States. Many of the works are presented for the first time in France and/or in a museum context.

The quotations from Jim Shaw are taken from "A conversation between Jim Shaw and Mike Kelley", in Noëllie Roussel et al, Jim Shaw, Everything must go, Luxembourg : Casino, Geneva : Mamco, Santa Monica : Smart Art Press, 1999, p. 43 and p. 49.

Translated with