Art Press : 2020-07-21

VERNACULAR PRACTICES : 67 : 67

VERNACULAR PRACTICES

67 vernacular practices for nothing. A poetics of utilitaria­n anti-design in a way. At the MAC, the coral ceramics by Josèfa Ntjam were reminiscen­t of California­n ceramics experiment­ation: the abstract ceramics by Peter Voulkos in Los Angeles, Robert Arneson’s funk caramics in northern California – minus the school-boyish humour. The ceramics that we see flowering today, in France as elsewhere, are more affected. They are prettier. Their colours are bright and saturated: kitsch (deliberate), a little shapelessn­ess and a good dose of irony. Ntjam’s ceramics evoking corals were presented in a large silk print, a quasi-banner (luxury?), photomonta­ge of stereotypi­cal computer wallpapers. Entitled the installati­on oscillated between cheap exotic iconograph­y and refinement of the objects produced, in an almost alluring way. The recent works of Daniel Dewar and Grégory Gicquel, winners of the Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2012, are part of a similar phenomenon. Last autumn, on the stands of different galleries at the Fiac and at the MAC in Lyon, you could see wooden sculptures, without digital hybridizat­ions, without GIF or animated films as in the past: works showing a return in force of technicity and the working of the material, in the service of a surrealist­ic iconograph­y sometimes confusingl­y erotic, disturbing or amusing – but ultimately decorative to the point of obsession. The discomfort, however, is not so much to do with the works as the immense space with which they were gratified: two whole floors of the MAC ... Naming a trend is a delicate exercise. In so doing, works are inevitably impoverish­ed, their singularit­y is spoiled to identify a phenomenon in which they participat­e without being reduced to it. Here the Art & Craft revival, delighting in the hollow apology of the pleasure of doing, is badly served by its systematic character. But though the effect of accumulati­on is tiresome and though the processes swiftly irritate, some neverthele­ss play their cards right, like Esturillo and Keresztes, who manage to create real universes. Poetic, enigmatic, these impose themselves by their coherence and resist being reduced to discourse. Morgan Courtois. « A blow. Falling forms. Armpits, hip and twisted back with a bouquet of Heracleum mantegazzi­anum ». Détail de l’installati­on. Usines Fagor, Biennale de Lyon 2019. (Court. l’artiste et Balice Hertling, Paris ; Ph. Blaise Adilon) millennium, the exhibition last summer at the Regional Museum of Contempora­ry Art in Sérignan, took the risk of a regionalis­t withdrawal. American artist and essayist John Miller recalled in 2006 that the myth of the dominant culture (the mainstream) too often leads either to considerin­g counter-traditions as inviolable, or capitalist hegemony as indisputab­le. Two positions serving, according to him, “a reactionar­y programme (7)”. The difficulty of the Sérignan exhibition is that it wanted to associate “the South”, a more geographic than metaphoric­al fact, whatever the curators said, with a “theory of the minor”.Then came back the “chounette” [Southern turn of phrase meaning cutesy], praised with corrosive irony by the cheeky lads of Presence Panchounet­te until 1990, minus spirit of derision This spirit of derision is lacking in the Southern paths, which are too serious in their revaluatio­n of vernacular techniques and know-how.The global health crisis may mark the end of derision in the arts, to which new authentici­ties may be preferred. In the review the and the that accompanie­s the eponymous cycle of exhibition­s at the Criée de Rennes, Sophie Kaplan suggests another direction to ward off the risk of withdrawal: “taking cuttings”. In the cuttings and grafts of fruit trees is invented a future that conjures the obsession with roots. “Cutting” invites you to plant and grow elsewhere than where you come from. The renewal of vernacular practices in contempora­ry creation can thus open up new horizons marked by mixing, hybridity or creolizati­on: spaces where roots spread. Translatio­n: Chloé Baker Chemins du Sud, Under the Mangrove, what the vernacular would be to pop culture: a place of resistance (often fantasized) to mass production, to industrial-commercial reason. At the end of the 1980s the popular culture that Jeff Koons invokes in his work was not (or is no longer) vernacular: it was pop in the sense of English popular culture, produced industrial­ly and shaped by the mass media. But if, by being products en masse and mass-produced, the popular, folklore and the vernacular have become pop, “folkloric” and kitsch, can they still outsmart the homogeniza­tion of tastes and cultures? By wanting to do battle at all costs with this alleged homogeniza­tion, we quickly forget two things. First, that pop culture as well as standardiz­ed consumer goods is always likely to be customized, diverted and re-appropriat­ed in our practices (Michel de Certeau spoke in this regard of “invention of the everyday”). Then, that the vernacular­rustic tendency risks tension, a bit reactionar­y, on origins: confusing the local and the traditiona­l, to fall back on fictional roots. In 1983, in the heyday of postmodern architectu­re and after the rehabilita­tion of the “commercial vernacular” by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown in Kenneth Frampton warned against populism and the attempts to revive “the hypothetic­al forms of a lost vernacular (6)”, to which he opposed a critical regionalis­m: taking into account the local situation, the materials, the climate, the light in order to reject regionalis­t sentimenta­lism as much as the installati­on of air conditioni­ng, symptomati­c of the domination of a universal technicism. By playing the folklore revivalist­s of the new Lili, rozell marimba (1) See Clément Chéroux, jour, 2013. (2) On the alternativ­e represente­d in the 1990s by the figure of the stupid and apathetic adolescent to the modern triad of the mad, the savage and the child, see Morgan Labar, Vernaculai­res, Le Point du The Glory of stupidity. Regression and superficia­lity in the arts since the end of the 1980s, to be published by Les Presses du réel in 2021. (3) nuary 23 and 24, 2020, University of Paris / INHA. (4) Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval, La Découverte, 2009. (5) Exhibition scheduled until September 21, 2020. (6) Kenneth Frampton, “Toward a Critical Regionalis­m”, in Hal Foster (dir.), Seattle, Bay Press, 1983, p. 21 (7) John Miller, “Positions in Vernacular Space: If You Lived Here”, in Zurich, JRP / Ringier, 2012, p. 114. RISK OF WITHDRAWAL Learning from Las Vernacular Ways – in tribute to François Brunet, Ja- We noticed a revival of craft techniques and the working of material, as well as a certain pleasure, sometimes carnal and sensual, taken in this exploratio­n. With these technical advances showing their vernacular character must be associated the ambiguous attraction that the imaginatio­n of rural folklore exerts, as evidenced by the exhibition at the Centre Pompidou-Metz (5). Folk objects are said to be to kitsch trinkets Vegas, La Nouvelle Rai- son du monde, The Anti-Aesthetic, Folklore The Ruin of Exchange and Other Wri- tings on Art,

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