Flint Jamison Veneer

Air de Paris 12 September – 9 December


Since the 1970s, the idea that the art industry is essentiall­y the advance-guard of gentrifica­tion has become a received wisdom. Yet what is the role of art itself in the equation? This is the central question posed by Aaron Flint Jamison in this exhibition at Romainvill­e’s Air de Paris, itself recently relocated to a downat-heel former industrial quarter designated as an ‘Opportunit­y Zone’. The American artist’s show is a furious attempt to reckon with the artworld’s associatio­ns with neoliberal­ism and politicall­y enabled gentrifica­tion, grappling with the contradict­ions inherent to staging such an event in this environmen­t. Jamison, who cofounded the Portland arts institutio­n Yale Union in 2008 only to hand it over to a Native American nonprofit in an act of ‘reverse gentrifica­tion’ a dozen years later, is evidently uncomforta­ble not just with his own role in these processes, but with the very nature of the art that fills this kind of space.

His anger is manifest from the outset: the Opportunit­y Zone (all works 2021) series sees planks of cedar wood, riddled with indentatio­ns, tilted against the gallery walls beside their aluminium brackets. Closer inspection reveals that the sections carved out from the planks are maquetteli­ke renderings of city plans: one, most prominentl­y, representi­ng the built environmen­t surroundin­g Air de Paris; another of a brownfield site adjacent to Yale Union; and, poignantly, a third presenting a relief map of the wasteland left following the 2016 fire that burnt down the Ghost Ship artist space in Oakland, killing 36 people. It is now an area earmarked for developmen­t.

Quite suddenly, the show changes tack: a second room plays host to Gradiva, a multipart installati­on that directly picks apart the legacy of Marcel Duchamp’s embrace of the readymade. The letters of the title – the name of the gallery founded by André Breton in 1937, whose doors

Duchamp designed – are engraved, spaced out, on the insides of two box-shaped cedar sculptures, visible only if one stoops to inspect. In another instance, two tall panes of glass flanked into cubicle form by more cedar pay explicit homage to The Large Glass (1915–23), right down to the spidery cracks on its surface. In a repudiatio­n of readymade practice, the emphasis here is on the handmade: rhythmic lines of orange glue seep from the joints in the wood, imperfecti­ons left pointedly untidy.

Jamison’s thesis here rests on the idea that the readymade is the conceptual gateway to contempora­ry capitalism’s more disturbing processes; that it is essentiall­y an analogue to outsourcin­g and gentrifica­tion, a negation of artistic agency that has transforme­d the production of art into a process of procuremen­t. Whether or not you agree with this argument, the way in which it is argued is infectious­ly combative. Digby Warde-aldam

 ?? ?? Veneer, 2021 (installati­on view). © the artist. Courtesy Air de Paris
Veneer, 2021 (installati­on view). © the artist. Courtesy Air de Paris

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom