press release

Edition 2008

“When I think of exhibitions, and what I'd like to do in Toulouse, the title of Henry Miller's book Black Spring often comes to mind, like a leitmotiv, an obsession.” Christian Bernard

Prime Intentions

Festival. In the world, the way things are going, it is hard for art to be at the party. Art is not life's Sunday. Celebration is not its sole lot. I don't like it when it goes well with the décor, or when it's mistaken for a couch; it's not there to be beautiful, it's not there to pretty things up (I no longer know who came up with this irrefutable formula). I should like Le Printemps de Septembre “festival” in Toulouse to also be an occasion for expressing these hard circumstances, and this ambient anxiety. [...] “Wherever I am going, I am already there”: a general utterance, not a theme, rather an open motif, a password, an enigma-like shifter. I'm wary of themes; I've always preferred versions. In 1982 or 1983, I invited Markus Roetz to take part in an exhibition of artists' Polaroids. He answered with a postcard on which was written, by his own hand, in pastels, the order: “No theme shows!” To start with I felt a slightly offended sadness, but since then this rule of life has often seemed a wholesome one to me. [...] Formulae. I've always dealt with exhibitions by playing with titles and words: no communication, strictly speaking, rather little syntactic units, curious and floating, which, for me, have the capacity of crystallizing, amplifying, densifying and irking the imagination. Discreet, indirect commentaries; a smuggler's way of saying things. [...] Title. It comes from a translation I once did with Axel Huber of a very short poem by Hubert Kiecol, the German sculptor. We published it in the form of a booklet at the Villa Arson, in Nice, “to mark the end of the decade”—the 1980s (printed on 18.12.1990): “... The girls remain,/ The boats leave.” The poem suggested that vague feeling you may have, at the quayside, early in the morning, of being nowhere in space and time; and infinitely alone. To come up with the title, I drew from an old slogan used by the Belgian airline: “With Sabena, you'd already be there.” Art as disorientation, here and now. [...] Immediacy. With this title I also understand the idea of a certain inaneness about journeys, “the futile labour of seeing different lands” as Valéry Larbaud put it. “Books are the fastest lifts”, noted Francis Ponge, for his part. Art as a means of instant transport or as a bubble. It's not the displacement of the body that gets us travelling but the imaginary, the work of thought. Operative works suddenly transport us beyond ourselves and briefly stop us ageing. Even when art confronts the real, it peels off our retina. [...] The flipside: This year, the dominant pitch will have more to do with relations (political, aesthetic, critical, etc.) to place and/or reality: where I am. Next year, I'd like to reverse the terms: “Wherever I am I don't exist”. From hermit crabs to tortoises, to those who carry with them their possible world. [...] Accents. First and foremost, broaden the festival's geography (more than 20 venues). Then, produce as many new and previously unshown pieces as possible (more than 30 artists). Lastly, get a good grasp of the different spaces in order to scale back their disparate nature. Thus giving the impression of one and the same exhibition, scattered throughout the city or, better still, of an exhibition of exhibitions, a festival of shows. [...] From one Spring to the next. An event that lasts just three weeks and then has to wait until the following year—so much energy for so little time. Whence the ideas of coming up with a small place to which it would withdraw, becoming squeezed in the interval, like a nest for keeping its flame burning (as in La Guerre du Feu), a standby screen. And let this place also be a work. This object, half-sculpture, half-architecture, this temporary chamber for surfing on the time in-between, this “time capsule” (memory and looking ahead), well, it went without saying that its making should be entrusted to Alain Bublex. “If the enemy concentrates, you must disperse; if he disperses, you must concentrate”, taught General Giap. Dispersing in the city in the brief span of the festival, concentrating in the module at the Abattoirs, in the dilated time of the intermezzo. [...] Banners. An event thus scattered runs the risk of vanishing in the cityscape. Intervening in the open space, streets and squares presupposes financial wherewithal that the Printemps does not have. And which would not tally with the festival's short span. And we would probably have problems with acceptance. Whence the project to install contemporary banners on the edges of the venues, on the circuit linking them and at times in other places where they would contain just their own meaning, their simple visual happening, and the associations of ideas that they would kindle. The black-and-white chequerboards devised by Stéphane Dafflon for these banners actually conjure up the flags that greet the winners of car races. But they are also perfect abstract pictures in a period where there is no longer any pure abstraction, other than images of abstraction. This severe visual grid, geometric, kinetic and categorical, would offer a radical contrast to the forever re-invented picturesqueness of the “pink city”. The sign of a present-day aesthetic assertion, a larksome and austere offensive, all at once. Like a signal saying: “We should like to talk to you about the present, with no detours.” The dreamer might thus find therein the banners of age-old battles, exotic or mediaeval, as resurrected by epic movies. It is the idea of a many-meaning'd upsurge that seems to have come from afar in time and space, but whose tongue is more current than the present time of the museum-city. It would not be just one more urban fixture, but a host of ghosts come to light. [...] Air transport. A city that is justly proud of its state-of-the-art position in the sensitive domain of modern aeronautics naturally stirs up both envy and curiosity. There is nothing surprising about the notion that flying saucers might make a landing in Toulouse for Le Printemps. Probably an avant-garde remote-controlled by Sylvie Fleury. An upcoming project. [...] The museum in endless duplication. Les Abattoirs takes itself for a church: long nave, side chapels, cavalcade of arcades. And then, instead of the choir, a chasm (like those that pepper this region), at the bottom of which visitors look like ants. And always these obsessive bricks which are in no way diminished by the works; beautiful building, restricted museum. Coming back to what Pascal Pique calls the Chirico-esque spirit of the place. Using the seven side rooms, opening onto the nave again, for seven kinds of hangings based on pieces from the public collections in Toulouse. This on seven colours and seven walls painted by John M. Armleder, himself the author of the hangings. And getting these colours to re-appear, one by one, in all the festival's other venues. So many rainbow fragments, everywhere diffracted. Abstract signs and signals, at once silent and garrulous. Then entrusting the nave and the chasm (including the Picasso room) to the acrobatic sequence of three artists: Fabrice Gygi, Vincent Lamoureux, and Philippe Decrauzat. From an “infernal machine” which seems to rehabilitate the old slaughterhouse as an abyssal optical hell, by way of an invasive procession of mongrel clouds... Here the simultaneous amazement of space and onlooker will propose the experience of a beauty that might be woven from the Memories of Modern Life. [...] On the right use of disappointment. The whole thing risks giving rise to a certain “disappointment”. I still prefer disenchanting works, the many uses of wit, irony, and cruelty too. I don't think that art should be something restful. The beautiful is an old story that everyone would like to see at his door, but for which art has no longer been accountable for quite a while. The invited artists are not going to hold out smug or obliging images of the world. In the name of art (with all the many names that art is now assuming), they will come up with ways of looking at things, of which the least we can expect is that their ways make us uncomfortable. Several generations, some very young unknown artists, and one or two famous names: all artists hard at work today. [...] Import-Export. Working with local and regional people. Occupying the Castres Art Centre (Le Lait) by turning it into a “House of familiar ghosts”, and inviting to Lieu Commun the artists (and the curators) of the Ateliers des Arques, to be held this summer. Forging new links between professionals in the field, different kinds of public, associations, and just people; an uneven, vast and fragile network. [...] Wish. I hope that, in the end of the day, all this will hold together, that the visitor, in this erratic urban maze, will have the feeling of being in, or of coming back to, the “right place” each time he walks through a new door, and that he/she will not go astray in this loose diversity of places and forms; and that, while taking certain short cuts, I won't have dragged the artists into too dark a wood...

Christian Bernard (Excerpts from a conversation with Jean-Max Colard)

Christian Bernard —After directing the Villa Arson in Nice from 1986 to 1994, Christian Bernard (born in Strasbourg in 1950) has taken on the job of directing the Mamco, the museum of modern and contemporary art in Geneva, which he has conceived as a global exhibition where there is a mingling of temporary works and permanent collections, introducing varied types of space and hanging (the collector's apartment, the White Cube, the studio, the storeroom, etc.). It is also under the aegis of the Mamco that Christian Bernard is undertaking external curatorships, for the Tramway des Maréchaux Est in Paris, in 2012, after the Strasbourg Tramway in 2011, and at the invitation of the artist Claude Leveque for the French pavilion at the next Venice Biennale. He will be artistic director for Le Printemps de Septembre in Toulouse in 2008 and 2009.


Les Jacobins Janet Cardiff

Musée les Abattoirs «Souvenirs de la vie moderne» Fabrice Gygi Vincent Lamouroux Philippe Decrauzat John M Armleder Alain Bublex Mark Lewis Jens Haaning

L' Hôtel Dieu Delphine Reist Laurent Faulon

Espace EDF Bazacle Lida Abdul

Maison éclusière Claude Lévêque

Château d'eau Botto e Bruno Maud Fässler

Fondation espace écureuil «L’art n’est pas le dimanche de la vie» Sada Tangara Laurent Faulon Botto e Bruno Elisabeth Llach Fabrice Gygi Marion Tampon-Lajarriette Alex Hanimann Delphine Reist Amy O'Neill Hannah Villiger

Espace Croix-Baragnon Bertrand Lamarche Denis Savary

TLT - télétoulouse - Programmation en cours

Centre culturel Bellegarde Lili Reynaud-Dewar

bbb Centre régional d'initiatives pour l'art contemporain Samuel Richardot Michel Perot

Galerie le Confort des Etranges Luc Andrié

Galerie GHP Renaud Regnery

Galerie Jacques Girard Renée Levi

L’école des beaux-arts Éric Hattan

Galerie Sollertis Alain Huck

Espace Marvejol / Galerie Sollertis Marion Tampon-Lajarriette

Atelier 2 / Théâtre Garonne Mark Lewis Daniel Buren

Lieu Commun « Libertalia » « Grand Chaos et Tiroirs »

Galerie Kandler Maud Fässler

Centre d'art le LAIT / Castres «Hôtel des spectres familiers» Yvan Salomone Amy O’Neill Elisabeth Llach Patrick Neu Alain Huck Denis Savary

Port Viguerie (Bassin de la Garonne) Sylvie Fleury

Dans l'espace public Christian Robert-Tissot

only in german

Printemps de Septembre 2008
Künsterischer Direktor: Christian Bernard

Künstler: Janet Cardiff, Fabrice Gygi, Vincent Lamouroux, Philippe Decrauzat, John Armleder, Alain Bublex, Mark Lewis, Jens Haaning, Delphine Reist, Laurent Faulon, Lida Abdul, Claude Lévêque, Maud Fässler, Sada Tangara, Laurent Faulon, Botto & Bruno, Elisabeth Llach, Fabrice Gygi, Marion Tampon-Lajarriette, Alex Hanimann, Delphine Reist, Amy O´Neill, Hannah Villiger, Bertrand Lamarche, Denis Savary, Lili Reynaud Dewar, Samuel Richardot, Michel Perot, Luc Andrie, Renaud Regnery, Renée Levi, Eric Hattan, Alain Huck, Marion Tampon-Lajarriette, Mark Lewis, Daniel Buren, Maud Fässler, Yvan Salomone, Amy O´Neill, Elisabeth Llach, Patrick Neu, Alain Huck, Denis Savary, Sylvie Fleury, Christian Robert-Tissot