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La Vie Magnifique

Palais de Tokyo, Paris

Five exhibitions. Combining poetry, visual arts, music and performance "I love John Giorno" is conceived by Ugo Rondinone, it is a retrospective of the life and work of a key figure of the American underground scene of the 1960s. Ragnar Kjartansson's singular work is a cross between performance and cinema, sculpture and opera, plein air painting and music. Melanie Matranga combines signs that reflect upon interiority with elements linked to social attitudes and habits. Mathis Collins has developed a practice mixing sculpture, and performance, in which he stages himself as a poetic and political figure. On the building an installation by Lee Bul entitled Aubade III.

comunicato stampa


With: Anne Collier, Angela Bulloch, Verne Dawson, Judith Eisler, John Giorno, Mark Handforth, Matthew Higgs, Pierre Huyghe, Françoise Janicot, Scott King, Elizabeth Peyton, Ugo Rondinone, Erik Satie, Michael Stipe, Billy Sullivan, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Andy Warhol.

Curator: Florence Ostende

‘In the early 1960s, I had the good fortune of meeting a lot of artists. Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Trisha Brown and Carolee Schneeman. These artists and painters were the real influence on me, as a poet. Whether it was a performance or a painting, they did what arose in their minds, and made it happen. It occurred to me that poetry was seventy five years behind painting and sculpture and dance and music. I said to myself, if these artists can do it, why can’t I do it for poetry?’ (1) John Giorno

"UGO RONDINONE : I ♥ JOHN GIORNO" is the first retrospective of the life and work of the American poet John Giorno (born 1936, lives and works in New York), a key figure of the American underground scene of the 1960s. The exhibition is conceived by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone (born 1964, lives and works in New York) as a work in its own right. ‘I structured the exhibition in eight chapters, each representing a layer of Giorno’s multifaceted work. Taken as a whole, they reflect how he works and help us to understand the dual influences that American culture and Buddhism had on his life and art,’ (2) Rondinone explains.

Giorno was an iconic character in Andy Warhol’s early films who found inspiration in the appropriation of found images by Pop artists and captured the real-life colloquial language of advertisements, television, newspapers and street slang. A leading figure in the lineage of the Beat Generation, he revived the genre of ‘found poetry’ and worked to make poetry accessible to all.

Since the mid-1960s, Giorno has developed viral strategies to share poetry with as many people as possible. In 1968 he created Dial-A-Poem, a telephone service offering random access to poems, sound artworks, songs and political speeches. A new version of the work will be accessible for free on the phone number 0800 106 106* (from 19th October 2015 to 10th January 2016), retracing a century of sound poetry, from 1915 to now. You can thus discover the original voices that have marked art history, cultural life, and social movements, from the abolition of the death penalty, to women’s rights… The randomly played pieces reveal the diversity of registers proposed by Giorno, from Antonin Artaud to Louise Bourgeois, Serge Gainsbourg, Simone de Beauvoir, Bernard Heidsieck, Brigitte Fontaine oelse Eric Duyckaerts…

Whether they are recorded on an album, painted on a canvas, delivered on stage or deconstructed in the pages of a book, Giorno considers poems as images that can be endlessly reproduced using different technologies. ‘In the age of sampling, cut and paste, digital manipulation of text, appropriation as art form – which finds its peak in hip-hop and the textual orgy of the World Wide Web – the world is finally catching up with techniques and styles that Giorno pioneered several decades ago.’ (3)

Combining poetry, visual arts, music and performance, the exhibition reveals the significant influence of Giorno’s life and work on several generations of artists who have portrayed him, from Andy Warhol’s cinematic masterpiece Sleep (1963) and its remake by Pierre Huyghe, to R.E.M, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Elizabeth Peyton, Françoise Janicot, Verne Dawson, Billy Sullivan and Judith Eisler.

Famous for his anthropomorphic sculptures, black masks and hyper-realistic clowns, for this exhibition, Rondinone has reinvented the retrospective format as portraiture and recaptures a form of spirituality through the connections between art and poetry.

‘The title "UGO RONDINONE : I ♥ JOHN GIORNO" is a collective «I» in which Ugo Rondinone invites each of us to share and to feel the spiritual and political commitment of an iconic figure of American counterculture. This exhibition is not just the first Giorno retrospective; it is a declaration of love that heralds the invention of a new genre.’ Florence Ostende

(1) Taken from Hans Ulrich Obrist’s interview with John Giorno in 2002, in Hans Ulrich Obrist: Interviews Volume 2, Milan: Charta, 2010.

(2) Taken from Florence Ostende’s conversation with the artist in December 2014.

(3) Marcus Boon, ‘Introduction’, in Subduing Demons in America, Selected Poems 1962-2007, Soft Skull Press, New York, 2008, p.X.

John Giorno will also be presenting two performances in conjunction with the exhibition as part of the Paris Autumn Festival:

- John Giorno Live, with John Giorno, on 18 November 2015 at Palais de Tokyo. This unique event featuring John Giorno is a unique opportunity to experience his extensive performative repertoire through a selection of poems, some of which have never been performed before. Giorno has created a site specific sound environment of poems recorded in the studio with Bob Moog, the legendary inventor of the synthesiser. Films featuring Giorno will be projected on a continuous loop as an accompaniment to the live poems, including Ron Mann's Poetry In Motion (1982), Michel Negroponte's No Accident (1995) and Peter Ungerleider's Loving Kindness (1995).

- Street Works by John Giorno will also run throughout the exhibition period and will see people on roller skates handing out Giorno's poems to visitors and those passing by the Palais de Tokyo, reenacting his participation in the 'Street Works' performances initiated by a group of artists and poets in the streets of New York in 1969.

These performances are jointly organised by Palais de Tokyo and the Paris Autumn Festival.

John Giorno will also be presenting a performance on Andy Warhol, followed by a conversation with Florence Ostende, on 23 November at the Centre Pompidou-Metz as part of the Warhol Underground exhibition, as well as performing at the Maison Rouge on 25 November.

The dialogue continues at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, which is hosting an exhibition dedicated to Andy Warhol from 2 October 2015, and the Almine Rech gallery, which is presenting a solo exhibition of Giorno's work from 21 November 2015.

An issue of Palais de Tokyo magazine will be dedicated to the exhibition.


Seul celui qui connaît le désir

Curator: Julien Fronsacq

“Sometimes you need to add a little theatre to life and vice versa.” (1) — Ragnar Kjartansson

Palais de Tokyo is presenting the first solo show in France of the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson (born in 1976, lives and works in Reykjavik) whose singular work is a cross between performance and cinema, sculpture and opera, plein air painting and music. In a poetic and surprising manner, the exhibition portrays everyday desires, longing for the transcendent, blurring the boundary between mundane and sublime.

Ragnar Kjartansson has created several original pieces for his show at Palais de Tokyo. These include Bonjour (2015), a performance which will repeat, during the entire duration of the show, the fleeting encounter between a man and a woman in a life-size setting, and Scenes from Western Culture (2015), a video installation made up of a set of cinematic and idyllic portraits, which simultaneously celebrate and deplore the desires produced by western culture, or Only the one who knows desire (2015), a large scale free standing paintings of icy mountains and rocks, in the tradition of theatre set painting.

The exhibition project conceived by Ragnar Kjartansson for Palais de Tokyo follows a meaningful series of experiences inspired by World Light (1937-1940), the Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness’ well-known four volume epic novel. Considered as the masterpiece of this leading figure of 20th century Icelandic literature, as well as some sort of bible for a lot of artists in the country, the book tells the tragic and eminently romantic story of a cursed poet.

For the title of Ragnar Kjartansson’s show, Palais de Tokyo has adopted the name of a poem by Goethe. A complex object, at the crossroads between literature and music, this poem has been variously adapted and translated. Coming from a novel of apprenticeship, it became a musical composition by Tchaikovsky (1869), then a Frank Sinatra song in 1949.

A monographic book published by Palais de Tokyo is accompanying this show.

(1) Ragnar Kjartansson, interview by Markús Thór Andrésson “Ragnar Kjartansson - A Simple Act of Forgiveness”, Flash Art, Nr. 281, November-December 2011, pp. 78-81.

Ragnar Kjartansson was born in 1976 in Reykjavik (Iceland), where he lives and works. He studied at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm and he represented Iceland at the 2009 Venice Biennale. He has won major international recognition in the past few years and his work has been widely exhibited in a number of solo shows in Europe and in the United States. Following his second appearance at the Venice Biennale in 2013 with his project “S.S. Hangover”, he presented “The Visitors” at the ICA in Boston and at the Guggenheim in Bilbao in 2014. A large-scale solo exhibition titled “Me, My Mother, My Father, and I” was also staged in 2014 at the New Museum in New York.


反复 [fanfu]

Curators: Benjamin Thorel and Thomas Boutoux

“I use emotional structures more than formal structures, emotions generated by listening to music, the awkwardness caused by seeing an erotic scene in a public space without expecting it... I take very convoluted routes like these structures to express something without ever truly being able to.” Mélanie Matranga

Ever loyal to its mission to promote young French artistic creation, Palais de Tokyo is presenting the first significant solo show by French artist Mélanie Matranga (born in 1985, lives in Paris).

Her exhibition articulates several environments, several moments, through an ambitious set of works and architectural elements: two large mezzanines, a smoking room made in silicone, paper lights and loudspeakers, photographic prints and drawings that cover several walls. Mélanie Matranga combines signs that reflect upon interiority with elements linked to social attitudes and habits. Together, they make up places where the singular is expressed by the common, and where intimateness is uncovered, exposed. They are places to be lonely with others.

“By working on clichés on youth, their representation and their supposedly passive narcissism, Mélanie Matranga plays with the visitor’s attention and humour; this way she creates holes in the systems of representations we take for granted.” (Benjamin Thorel and Thomas Boutoux, curators)

The title of the show is in Mandarin, 反复, pronounced [fanfu] – and means, “again and again.” Intentionally elusive, it participates in the creation of a particular atmosphere, of a state of uncertainty; it then echoes the characters in a short film of the same name by Mélanie Matranga, which is presented in the exhibition.

A monographic book published by Palais de Tokyo is accompanying this show.

Born in Marseille in 1985, Mélanie Matranga lives in Paris, where she graduated from the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA).
She was amongst the artists selected for the Prix de la Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard in 2014 , and was the inaugural winner of the Frieze Artist Award. She is represented by the Karma International gallery in Zurich, where she presented the exhibition titled A perspective, somehow, in early 2015.


Modules - Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent

Curator: Katell Jaffrès

Under the auspices of the Modules Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, Palais de Tokyo is presenting the first large-scale solo show in a cultural venue in Paris of the artist Mathis Collins, with new productions, associated with a series of existing works.

Mathis Collins has developed a practice mixing sculpture, performance and poetry, in which he stages himself as a poetic and political figure.

For this show, Mathis Collins (born in 1986, lives in London) has reproduced an artist’s studio on the terrace of a café, for the creation of works made up of sculptures and photographs. These in turn trigger off a tension around the question of collective creation, when confronted by the figure of the solitary artist, in an allusion to the use of cafés by the artistic avant-gardes of the 19th century and the romantic vision of touristic Paris.

Mathis Collins (born in 1986, based in Paris and London) studied at the Ecole d’Art de Cergy, then in Brussels, Montreal and Metz. The Palais de Tokyo in collaboration with the Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, presented his work as a duo show with Cyril Verde in 2010 under the title Dynasty, and more recently as part of the travelling exhibition Inside China in Hong-Kong and Shanghai, in partnership with the K11Art Foundation.
Mathis Collins takes part in the activities of the Parisian group Treize. He is currently living in London, on the Open School East programme.


Lee Bul
Aubade III
Interventions on the building

Curators: Khairuddin Hori and KIM Hyoungmi

As part of France-Korea Year, the Palais de Tokyo, in collaboration with the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) of Korea, is presenting an installation by Lee Bul (born in 1964, based in Seoul) entitled Aubade III. Inspirée de l’architecture et des utopies modernes du début du 20ème siècle, cette structure métallique met en scène la crise entre l’homme et la société ultra technologique.

Lee Bul is a major artist from the Korean contemporary art scene today. In 2014, she was awarded the prestigious Noon Award for established artist at Gwangju Biennale, an accolade bestowed on artists regarded as being truly experimental in their practice. Lee Bul is most known to engage and push the boundaries and stereotypical perceptions on gender, beauty and humanity through performance, sculptures, installations. Her work has been presented on international institutions such as The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2015), Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012), Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2004), The Power Plant, Toronto (2003), Musée d’Art Contemporain, Marseille (2002), New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2002), Le Consortium, Dijon (2002), Venice Biennale, Venice (1999), Kunsthalle Bern (1999), and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1997).

Press contact:
Dolores Gonzalez 01 47235457 -

Opening ceremony: Monday, October 19th, 9 p.m.

13, avenue du Président Wilson 75 116 Paris
From 12 noon to 12 midnight every day except Tuesday
Closed annually on January 1, May 1 and December 25
Rate: 10€
Reduced rate: 8€ - Visitors under 26 years old, teachers, seniors, house artists, groups of more than 10 people, and members of partner institutions Tokyopass
Free admission : Under 18 years-old, job seekers,
Special closing time of 18.00 on December 24 and 31

dal 24/11/2015 al 9/1/2016

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