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Air de Paris: Pierre Joseph // Jef Geys - 24 Jan 2014 to 8 Mar 2014

Current Exhibition

24 Jan 2014 to 8 Mar 2014

Air de Paris
32, rue Louise Weiss
FR - 75013
T: +33 (1) 4423 0277
F: +33 (1) 5361 2284

Pierre Joseph

Artists in this exhibition: Pierre Joseph, Jef Geys

Pierre Joseph
Maintenant ('Now')

It is no small feat on the part of Pierre Joseph to have indexed his works to a constantly renewed now. He does not simply take up the meaning that Walter Benjamin attributed to the dialectical image, whose 'legibility' is a function of its encounter with a 'present' [1] , Joseph subverts the terms of it: it is the now, in its contextual, technological and cultural modalities, which determines the modalities of the artwork [2]. Although Pierre Joseph was one of the artists in the 90s involved in a redefinition of the practice and the thinking behind the work of art [3] , he still persists in the undertaking.
Thus the main work in the exhibition, Endless Photographs, is a series of snapshots taken in the Normandy forest near where he lives, using one of the latest models of camera, but with no attention paid to lining up the shots, no adjustments, and using modern methods of production for printing and production (developing and framing via a web site). What he reveals with this method is a now deprived of the romantic atmosphere of all forests, and of this forest in particular, which Barbey d’Aurevilly had described in a supernatural light in his novel The Bewitched (1854).
In creating some new 'living reactivatable characters' [4], after nearly ten years, Joseph seems to be applying this act of temporal redefinition to his own work. Although, at the time, he was referencing video games, the meaning is brought up to date in terms of today's digital world, and also by questions associated with the 'tableau vivant' or 're-enactment' (once again contemporary), which he re-contextualises as soon as he raises them.
Pierre Joseph seems, then, to invite us to entertain such a plasticity of meaning that he allows doubt to creep in as to whether there is any meaning at all, and the work invites one to ponder on the profundity of everyday things that he alone has understood. Looked at from this angle, his research aims less to discover anything, than to short-circuit all idea of virtuosity in order to reach this unattainable degree. As a consequence, Mon Nom est personne, the last work in the exhibition, resonates all the more.

1. "Every present day is determined by the images that are synchronic with it: each "now" is the now of a particular recognizability." Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, (tr. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin) N, 3, 1, p 463.
2. In this vein the title of the catalogue raisonné of his works, Oui Non Peut-être 'Yes No Maybe' (Presses du Réel, 2011) picks up on the possible answers to invitations to Facebook events.
3. The works will be presented as such in the Stéphanie Moisdon and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster exhibition at the Centre Pompidou Metz, devoted to art of the 90s.
4. A living reactivatable character can be reactivated by an actor disguised as the character in the photograph, but the two must never be presented simultaneously.

Jef Geys

Jef Geys's œuvre, which he began in 1947 at the age of 13, has always tended to hug the shadows, to camouflage itself and approach the categories of contemporary art from the rear.
His work is firmly anchored in autobiography; it resides in the margins of aesthetic contemplation and creates a constant dynamic somewhere between popular culture and drawing attention to the banal.
In favouring 'the world as support' and in his attempt at a synthesis of art and life, Jeff Geys (though he makes no claim to it) belongs in the tradition of Fluxus.
Since 1958 he has been making a meticulous inventory of all his works, which he orders according to subject, genre, year and number.
Out of this archive, Jef Geys extracts the themes for his new exhibitions, which are really just one way of inspecting and reactivating autobiographical events and old works in a new context that will re-energise the meaning.
At Air de Paris, Geys will be presenting two projects that closely combine official documents and personal history: 'cow passports' (les passeports de vaches) was developed in 1965 and 1966 when Jef Geys, who was helping his cattle merchant father-in-law, drew and registered the physical characteristics of the latter's cows, thus providing them with an identity.
For Air de Paris, he has created a new installation, with 21 new cow passports.
!questions de femmes! ('!women's questions!') is a series that Geys developed in the early 60s when he was a teacher of Positive Aesthetics at a children's school in Balen, where he lived in Belgium. Geys drew up a list of questions that women might ponder about their identity; then gave them to his pupils for discussion. In the 1980s these !questions de femmes! were adapted for contemporary art and have now been translated into 13 languages. The Hindi version will be on display in the Gallery shop window.
For the exhibition, a special Air de Paris edition of the newspaper KEMPENS Informatieblad will be published.
Jef Geys rejects the excessive reverence for works of art that goes on in exhibition catalogues and has been publishing the newspaper KEMPENS Informatieblad since 1971 (KEMPENS is the region of Belgium where he lives). He often produces them in line with his exhibitions.
These newspapers act as a kind of diary; they log, in no particular order, the elements necessary to understanding his surroundings, things he wonders about, things he is curious about, and his works.

Francis Mary.

Air de Paris

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