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The Louvre introduces Living Art


Gary Hill, Installation vidéo, 2004 © Philippe Chancel

The museum invites 11 contemporary artists to intervene in its collections.

The Louvre Museum presents, within the exhibition Contrepoint, the work of 11 artists (French and International) until February 10th 2005. Once again the various departments of the Louvre Palace and its collections, from Antique Art (Western and Eastern) to the 19th century, become a place of creation and inspiration. The artists were invited to choose, during their visit to the museum, a place, a work or an artistic period, and then asked to respond to it. Instead of opening a current art department, the Louvre, through the intermediary Marie-Laure Bernadac, presents us with an experiment, in the medium of its collections, as a feature of union between various times and artistic traditions: "to found a dialogue between the past, the history and scholarship, to the present, the contemporary and artistic, can only be profitable." The majority of the artists exhibiting in Contrepoint, chose a work in the collections of the Louvre then studied and responded to it with something from their own work. Through this process the artist acquires a new role, beyond the creator, to an organiser of an exhibition, a curator of a museum. Another process was also evident, in certain cases, where a specific work is created, as in the case of Xavier Veilhan (Lyon, 1963), who presents Les hommes célèbres et Laika in the department of artistic objects. This artist prolongs his reflections on the museum space and uses his monumental statues of Republican Guards (1995), and Giant Resin Animals (1999) to re-route the collections of the Louvre. In addition, he takes 11 porcelain statuettes, famous reproductions of men from the 17th-18th century, from their showcase, lays them out on a modern table and gives them continuity by creating and including the Statue d´homme célèbre du XXe siècle: a resin reproduction of Laika, the first animal to have travelled in Space (1957).




Le donjon de Philippe Auguste © Musée du Louvre/ E. Revault
In Contrepoint, media art has the most prominent representation through Living Art (installation, performance, video). Ange Leccia (Minerviu, Corsica, 1952) projects his video arrangement, < I>Enfant villa Médicis, (DVD, 15mn, 2004), onto the steps of the platform devoted to sarcophagi, in the department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities. The child's face from a Roman neo-classical statue is filmed by the artist and connects immediately with the representations carved on the walls of the Roman tombs. In the same way, the American artist, Gary Hill, places his video installation, I Can' T Stop Reading It, in the department of Eastern Antiquities, in the room devoted to the birth of writing. This video work uses the processes of virtual animation to try to rebuild a cosmology of the language of forms, signs and symbols. The tablets of clay, from Mesopotamia, have pictographic writing that goes back to 3000 B.C. and echo the work and thought processes of an artist who is continually working on the linguistic codes and bonds between the word, the image and the sound. Gary Hill presents and emphasises the origins of writing by it becoming part of modern technology. However the representational arts are not forgotten with Jean-Michel Albèrola (Saida, Algeria, 1953), who exhibits his pastels inspired by the French painting of the 18th century at the department of Paintings in the Louvre.
La Salamandre is in another room of the museum, in the keep of Philippe Auguste which is part of the Medieval Louvre. It is an audio piece created for the place and concerns two different stories. One is historical: the death of Etienne Dolet; the other is mythological: the history of King Midas, which both await the visitor. The excavation around the keep points out the hole in which the barber of King Midas entrusts his terrible secret. The author of this audio-installation, Frederic Sanchez, continues his work in the Louvre, which started in 1988, through the connection between sound illustration and the world of art (Louise Bourgeois/ The Foundation of the Museum of Contemporary Art Grand Duc Jean, Luxembourg/ The Museum of the Louvre).

These glances, crossing between old and living art, are currently embraced, as much in Europe as in the United States (Museum of Orsay, Versailles off; Les intrus, Museum of Modern Art, Paris; Luciano Fabro in the Bourdelle Museum) and were already presented successfully at the Louvre in the 90´s (Polyptyques, D´après l´antique, Copier-Créer, L´Empire du Temps) until more recently (the intervention of James Coleman in Leonardo da Vinci notably).



Contrepoint, Museum of the Louvre, curated by Marie-Laure Bernadac. Participating artists: Jean-Michel Albèrola, Christian Boltanski, Marie-Ange Guilleminot who presents Absalon, Susan Hefuna, Gary Hill, Cameron Jamie, Ange Leccia, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Frederic Sanchez, José Maria Sicilia and Xavier Veilhan. The exhibition opened on November 12th at 8.00 p.m. by a performance from Marie-Angel Guilleminot, baptized L' oursin.


Texte : Nicolas Clémens
Translation : Nicolas Clémens and Sarah Stephenson
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