Rolywholyover. Fifth episode. Philippe Ramette and Christian Marclay work in very distinct formal worlds. The former has developed a poetic, often playful, occasionally pessimistic view of the human condition through an output of objects and photographs in which the artist himself poses. Marclay has explored visual and sound territories throughperformances and visual artworks. Honk if you love silence will focus on the singular place photography occupies in his art, bringing together for the first time some one hundred examples of his output in this medium.
Starting 25 June, Mamco will be playing on the diversity that reigns among art’s
various idioms when the museum welcomes to its galleries Philippe Ramette and Christian Marclay, two
artists who work in very distinct formal worlds. The former has developed a poetic, often playful, occasionally
pessimistic view of the human condition through an output of objects and photographs in which the artist himself poses. Recapitulating Ramette’s work since the early 1990s, the Mamco show offers for the first time in Switzerland the chance to discover this suprising artist. The museum will also be playing host to the Swiss-American artist Christian Marclay, who for two decades now has explored visual and sound territories
throughperformances and visual artworks. Honk if you love silence will focus on the singular place
photography occupies in Marclay’s art, bringing together for the first time some one hundred examples of his output in this medium.
The Mamco’s fourth floor has been taken over by Honk if you love silence, a show devoted to the photographic work of CHRISTIAN MARCLAY (1955, San Rafel, California). In the late ‘70s Marclay was pursuing in the United States the visual arts studies he had begun at Geneva’s School of Fine Arts when he discovered New York’s experimental music, an outgrowth of both Fluxus and the American punk scene via such figures as John Zorn, Fred Frith, Sonic Youth and Elliot Sharp, as well as the performance art developed by Vito Acconci and Laurie Anderson. Unable to play a musical instrument yet eager to develop a body of work as a performer, Marclay adopted an unusual instrument for concert settings at the time, the turntable, which he began using on stage in 1979.
“A visual artist of music,” Marclay served as a trailblazer in both the underground music scene and contemporary art by exploring a space that is common to the visual arts and music. At the heart of his artistic research, he combines a multitude of media that include sound, album covers, vinyl recordings, magnetic tapes and film excerpts. While he does owe part of his renown to the virtuosity of his video montages and his activity as a performer, photography nevertheless constitutes another important facet of his artmaking. It is this less-familiar side of his work that Honk if you love silence aims to bring to light. The works featured in the Mamco show will enable visitors to grasp for the first time the diversity of uses and techniques developed by the artist, including processes based on light that employ no camera of any sort (photograms and cyanotypes), enlarged and torn images (the Fourth of July series, which features marching bands on parade during America’s Independence Day), photogravure (the Soundholes series of 21 photographs of intercoms) and finally his series of snapshots taken while traveling in different cities around the world. In all some one hundred photographs will be on display.
Visitors will also have the chance to experience the performative aspect of Marclay’s work at a concert scheduled for 20 September in the museum. Several figures who are active on the experimental scene will perform “graphic scores” proposed by Marclay. A book accompanying the show is also slated for publication by Presses du reel in the “Mamco / Métiers de l’exposition” collection. Scheduled for September 2008, the book aims to enrich the corpus of publications on Marclay’s art by analyzing in an original, exhaustive and scientific way the place and role of the medium of photography in his output.
Regularly invited to show his work in France and other countries throughout Europe, PHILIPPE RAMETTE will be inaugurating his first major show in Switzerland with his exhibition at Mamco, an opportunity to discover one of the most singular French artists of his generation. Since the early 1990s, Ramette (born 1961 in Auxerre) has been creating objects that are designed for a specific use that is spelled out in their title, for example, object for isolating yourself, for moving mountains, for levitating, for seeing yourself looking, for traveling in time, for getting yourself struck by lightning, for handling the void, for measuring how far you’ve come... Be it armchairs, artificial limbs or gallows, these instruments from another age attract more than our simple contemplation. “Generally,” says Ramette, “it’s not the object that’s important, it’s the idea of a possible future use and especially what that use is going to entail in terms of transformations.” Whether it’s his Boîte à isolement (Isolation Box), a wooden case for enclosing your head, or his Objet à voir le chemin parcouru (Object for Seeing the Distance You’ve Come), a wooden base to be attached to the skull and sporting side mirrors enabling the wearer to see where he or she is coming from, it is indeed the uses these objects lead us to imagine, the scenarios they turn out, that interest the artist most.
Prostheses for body and soul, the objects and situations dreamed up by Ramette are designed to improve in a playful way our moral and spiritual existence and to free us from the limits imposed by our condition as humans, such as moving through the heavens or the depths of the sea in complete liberty, although there is a price to be paid just the same, a physical effort or a mortification of the body. Along with his “mentally activated” sculpture-objects, Ramette produces images in which he poses himself in situations for which his objects were originally created.
The exceptional character of Gardons nos illusions (Let’s Keep our Illusions), Ramette’s show at Mamco, springs from the fact that this exhibition brings together a large collection of his works from the 1990s on. More an exhibition recapitulating a career at its midway point than a retrospective, the show is based on a scenario imagined by the artist and Christian Bernard, who has offered the artist the chance to “arrange” his works according to their thematic affinities without worrying about their chronological grouping. The show takes up twelve galleries, each one bearing a name and constituting its own thematic and museographic space. Thus visitors will find, for example, a prosthesis gallery, a lightning gallery, a mirror gallery, a dictatorship gallery, and so on. Through this original approach of placing the French artist’s works in perspective, the show takes a new look at Ramette’s oeuvre while acknowledging its great formal and thematic unity over some fifteen years.
Image Christian Marclay
Press conference, 24 June 2008 at 11 a.m.
Show opening, 24 June 2008 , from 6 p.m. on
Mamco, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Geneva
10, rue des Vieux-Grenadiers, CH-1205 Geneva
The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from noon to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The show Cycloptically will be closed August 1rst and September 11th 2008.
General admission: CHF 8.- / Reduced admission: CHF 6.- / Group admission: CHF 4.-