press release

The Centre international d’art et du paysage de l’île de Vassivière, by dedicating one exhibition a year within its exhibition cycle to a selection of works belonging to an important private collection, will become a magnifying glass for viewing these visual landscapes from which spectators and art lovers are normally barred.

To inaugurate this new cycle, director Chiara Parisi chose to invite Marc and Josée Gensollen. This couple of medical psychiatrists has authored one of the most important collections of contemporary art in Europe. Collectors, and the Gensollen are a case in point, constitute an essential nexus within the contemporary art system linking artists, public institutions, critics and the art market.

They are attracted to conceptual art, and the choice of works shown on Vassivière Island is a testimony to their avant-garde approach. The visionary aspect of the collection has earned it international renown.

Marc and Josée Gensollen give little interest to the speculative dimension of art, preferring to operate according to a model whose exchanges are not economic but made of dialectic contacts. The formal result is less important to them than the underlying intellectual questioning.

At the Centre international d’art et du paysage, the concept is exhibited spatially.

New patrons of contemporary art, the two spouses live in Marseille in a building restructured by architect Harold Sylvander, La Fabrique, to form a living space dedicated entirely to receiving artists and their works, rendering them an ordinary part of their lives, and a nearly imperceptible presence.

The exhibition Strictly Confidential welcomes some of contemporary art’s most important personalities: Victor Burgin, Douglas Gordon, Dan Graham, Bertrand Lavier, Lawrence Weiner and Ian Wilson figure next to the latest generation of artists such as Pierre Bismuth, Liam Gillick, Philippe Parreno, Rob Pruitt and Tino Seghal. Each work is produced in situ, and all of the works have been realized anew specifically for Vassivière Island.

They were tele-transmitted to the Center, as proposed by Marc and Josée Gensollen.

A visitor arriving at the Center curious to discover the works of this extraordinary collection will first be surprised by the imposing Aldo Rossi building and its lighthouse, who plays host to Philippe Parreno’s Mont Analogue (2002), inspired by the book by René Daumal revisiting the myth of the quest for the Holy Grail.

On the other side of the Center, the utterance A direct affront to a natural waterway (1969) by Lawrence Weiner, placed along the facade facing the lake and the dam of Vassivière Island, underlines the artificial aspect of this apparently natural territory.

Two Viewing Rooms (1975) by Dan Graham creates an apparatus for playing with the status of the visitor, who finds himself passing from observer to observed, from active to passive. The interest lies in inter-subjectivity and the possibility for exploring that which a person, in a given moment, perceives simultaneously of him or herself, while looking at others and being observed by them. Graham’s game with chiaroscuro dominates the middle of the Center’s nave, contrasting with Victor Burgin’s Enoncés performatifs (1969-1970) and Bertrand Lavier’s wall painting Rouge agricole par Valentine et Corona (1990-2005). Lavier’s piece expresses thought on four levels: the slightest difference that exists between things, the ready-made, painting, and the place of language in the work of art.

The nave is revitalized by the contrast obtained between these works and a synonyms wall piece by Pierre Bismuth, From sex to nothing and vice-versa (2002). Through a chain of synonyms, the sexual act becomes nothing and, inversely, this nothing becomes the sexual act.

In the studies room, Liam Gillick intervenes with Prototype Design for a Conference Room (Joke by Matthew Modine arranged by Markus Weisbeck) from 1999, a comical text mixing Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg and God that points out the cultural differences between the United States and England.

Further on, in the little theater, young artist Tino Sehgal is inspired by dance and choreography in what he calls « sculptures ». The actors, rigorously selected, are activated upon entry by the visitor as if they were freely enclosed in the created space, captive of the sound and gestural presence induced by the « sculptures », somewhere between song and slogan. Selling out (2002-2005), presented here for the first time, sees a Center security guard, activated by the presence of the spectator, engaged in doing a strip-tease, right up to full nudity if the latter agrees to the exchange and assumes his or her position as voyeur.

In the same room we find the wall text by Douglas Gordon, It’s only just begun (1993) as well as Chalk Circle (1968) by Ian Wilson.

Marc and Josée Gensollen have brought out the minimal and immaterial aspect of conceptual art. Their collection is more archive than curio cabinet -- the majority of the works are notarized acts, contracts waiting to be reactivated.

While Strictly Confidential underlines the strong historical and theoretical profile of the Gensollen’s collection, it is not devoid of humor or playfulness. Everyone can participate in Ideas (1999) by the artist Rob Pruitt. Pruitt will solicit the visitor’s gaze outside of the traditional exhibition spaces, encouraging us to give life to our own statements. Thanks to the private and confidential nature of the places where these works are installed, the spectator will be able to express himself or avoid each form of conditioning.

Within the framework of this exhibition, a catalog is edited by Silvana Editoriale (Milan). Art direction : Paola Manfrin.

The International Center for Art and Landscape receives support from the Ministry of Culture and Communication / Drac Limousin, the Limousin Regional Board, the General Board of la Creuse and the Mixed Regional and Inter-departmental Syndicate of Vassivière en Limousin (SYMIVA).

From the Collection of Marc & Josee Gensollen

mit Pierre Bismuth, Victor Burgin, Liam Gillick, Douglas Gordon, Dan Graham, Bertrand Lavier, Philippe Parreno, Rob Pruitt, Tino Sehgal, Lawrence Weiner, Ian Wilson