Time Interrupted at Toulouse’s Contemporary Art Biennial – 图卢兹当代艺术双年展的时间中断

Springtime in September – the defining concept of the Toulouse contemporary art biennial – seems, right now, like an immensely pleasing prospect. At the blustery conclusion of a summer that has been, depending on your predicament or point of view, either a blissful heatwave haze or an unsettling foretaste of the apocalyptic climate to come, there might be few things more attractive than the impossible dream of turning back time, putting the weather in rewind, hitting refresh on spring. Such, it might seem, is the fanciful aspiration of ‘Le Printemps de Septembre’. Under the directorship of veteran curator Christian Bernard, this richly varied biennial once again invites us to share in an autumn-replacing printemps: an abundant flowering of art across a city and its environs – an offer that has, on the face of it, an upbeat, benevolent civic generosity. Art, we might presume, is like spring: with it comes revival, new life, more light.

But what if – to darken the mood – this bonus springtime doesn’t cancel the imminent autumn and instead coincides with it, complicating it? What if, in fact, the exhibition’s conceit implies a confused, congested sense of time: a strange simultaneity of spring and autumn. Seasonal awakening, births and beginnings, concurrent with decline and fall. Certainly, such an atmosphere of compression and disturbance would seem truer to art’s turbulent, changeable weather than any optimistic, cheerfully favourable outlook – and to reckon with a disorderly sense of temporality, a condition of things being out of synch and sequence, would feel apt in our own screwed-up times. (I’m reminded of a comment once made by Roni Horn: ‘Weather is the key paradox of our time. Weather that is nice is often weather that is wrong.’). Bernard’s introduction to the exhibition – making the customary biennial pitch for urgent present-day relevance – notes how ‘Printemps’ has been ‘inspired by the will [of artists] to position themselves in the midst of history’s conflicts and tensions’. The particular title of this year’s edition, ‘Fracas et Frêles Bruits’ (Fracas and Frail Sounds) declares a desire for art to make itself heard within the chaotic din of historical tumult and catastrophe – but among the featured artworks are quite a few that seem particularly suited to the wider, weirder festival context of an asynchronous spring. These are works that puzzle over what it might mean to be historically positioned at all, or that anxiously capture a sense of contrary, unpredictable motion in time’s passing.


Time Interrupted at Toulouse’s Contemporary Art Biennial - 图卢兹当代艺术双年展的时间中断

Latifa Echakhch, Partition Pour Main et Masse, 2018, installation view, Centre d'Art Contemporain Chapelle Saint-Jacques (Sain-Gaudens). Courtesy: © Printemps de Septembre; photograph: Damien Aspe

So, for instance, an exhibition by US-born Parisian ‘punk muse’ Nina Childress, at the Musée Paul-Dupuy (one of over 30 venues used throughout the exhibition), messes impertinently with the chronological and typological orthodoxies of museum display – mixing the kitschy pop drollery of her own paintings with the antiquated styles of around 40 historical portraits from the Musée des Augustin collection. (The eclectic display format, faux-naif method and recurring focus on female subjects suggest comparisons with Karen Kilimnick, but the latter’s art has a singular, spellbinding charm not generally achieved by Childress.) An enthralling exhibition by David Claerbout at Les Abattoirs – the city’s premier contemporary art venue – is also concerned with revisiting and re-positioning past materials. Claerbourt’s ‘Dark Optics (Vision de Nuit)’ – which includes work made between 1997 and 2017 – is a beautifully solemn ten-screen meditation on the changing capacities of lens-based media to bring the world to life, or to hold it still. Found photographs become micro-detailed animations; appropriated movies are radically edited: these are revelatory, painstaking products of pixel-by-pixel re-touching, tour-de-force experiments in time-sculpting. A different type of temporal distortion occurs in ‘Partition pour main et masse’ (Partition for Hand and Mass) a dually creative-and-destructive, forwards-and-backwards installation by Latifah Echakhch, situated at the Centre D’art Contemporain Chapelle Saint-Jacques, in the town of Saint Gaudens (an hour’s drive from Toulouse). On the high interior walls of this historic building – a former church – Echakhch has painted an expansive fresco: a depiction of blue sky and scattered clouds that might be a grand elaboration on background details from a classical scene. With care and precision, however, the artist has chipped away at the painting, removing sections of applied colour to leave a patchy, substantially destroyed image. The overall effect – augmented by an accompanying video in which a piano is played and disassembled at the same time – is both powerful and pathetic. The capacious theatrical space promises a spring-like, bright-sky uplift, but in its profound ruination it also calls to mind the nihilistic opening lines from Ali Smith’s novel Autumn (2016): ‘It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times. Again. That’s the thing about things. They fall apart, always have, always will, it’s in their nature.’


Time Interrupted at Toulouse’s Contemporary Art Biennial - 图卢兹当代艺术双年展的时间中断

Sven Anderson and Gerard Byrne, A Visibility Matrix, 2018, installation view, Fondation d'entreprise espace écureuil pour l'art contemporain, Toulouse. Courtesy: © Printemps de Septembre; photograph: Damien Aspe 

Echakhch’s hopeful, fine-weather vision is laboriously realised then gradually picked apart. And despite its antique appearance, her work’s incrementally annulled optimism has a right-now feel, perhaps recalling the late Mark Fisher’s concern for what he called (borrowing from Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi) ‘the slow cancellation of the future.’ Where we stand – and what we understand – with respect to past, present and future is also the conceptual crux of Gerard Byrne’s In Our Time (2017) shown at the Theatre Garonne. Originally commissioned for Skulptur Projekte Munster in 2017, Byrne’s long, leisurely film brings us into the cloistered, time-fixated world of a fictional radio studio. Moving between the ongoing, inevitably inane chatter of an avuncular middle-aged male DJ and the inconsequential comings and goings of studio musicians (either setting up or wrapping up, we’re never quite clear which), Byrne’s crafty, slow-moving montage of unhurried, uneventful scenes runs for an undefined duration, repeating in altering combinations. The setting is non-specific United States. The time is non-specific too. Or rather, it is unpredictably specific. Hourly news updates include apparently contemporaneous reports on events from the 1970s and ’80s, as if the closed box of the studio can leap, Tardis-like, from one time-period to another. But when the DJ provides a time-check – an insistently regular feature of radio broadcasting – the hours and minutes match the precise clock position of our current time. As with Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010) this pairing of a diegetic temporality with our own present moment is steadily mesmerizing: we become, like the producers and presenters of radio shows, obsessed with the accurate managing and marking of time, while losing ourselves in its unending drift.

A second major work by Byrne, this time in collaboration with sound artist Sven Anderson, is also, simultaneously, an urgent, in-the-moment experience and a self-conscious, anachronistic throwback. A Visibility Matrix (2018) (shown at the Fondation d’enterprise espace écuriel pour l’art contemporain) is a mammoth montage of video drawn from footage provided by an extensive range of further collaborators. (It’s a mini-Biennial by itself: featuring contributions from Rosa Barba, Maeve Brennan, Duncan Campbell, Willie Doherty, Rosalind Nashashibi, Lucy Raven and dozens more.) Byrne and Anderson’s emphatically physical installation – multiple monitors, chunky display stands and a jungle of thick sprawling cables – is partly a nostalgic paean to pioneering, pre-internet media art, and partly a speculative, forward-looking proposition: a critical, contemplative model of off-line video sharing that offers temporary relief from the time-wasting temptations of online streaming.


Time Interrupted at Toulouse’s Contemporary Art Biennial - 图卢兹当代艺术双年展的时间中断

Bruno Gironcoli, ‘La Grande Cavalcade’, 2018, installation view, Couvent des Jacobins, Toulouse. Courtesy: © Printemps de Septembre; photograph: Damien Aspe 

Elsewhere at ‘Le Printemps’ there were multiple attempts to newly appraise or promote influential figures from art’s recent past, alongside manifold explorations of how the frêles brut of art might represent, or rise above, the fracas of ‘history's conflicts and tensions’. There were, for instance, significant solo presentations by artists finding fresh ways to make visible the hidden histories of colonialism (Lisa Reihana at The Theatre Garonne; Vincent Meessen at Musée Saint Raymond) or seeking to critique handed-down hierarchies of art-making (a fantastic, ferocious display of feminist collage and water-colour painting by Béatrice Cussol at la Médiatheque des Abattoirs). There were strong selections of work by diversely trail-blazing, sometimes undervalued artists: a city-wide series of Alexander Kluge screenings; a first French retrospective of paintings and sculptures by former Situationist activist Jacqueline de Jong (at Les Abattoirs); a sizable display of the monstrous, ridiculous, machine-body forms realised by Austrian surrealist Bruno Gironcoli between the 1960s and the early 2000s: heavy-duty sculptures that might suggest prized historical relics in a museum of industry, were it not for the wild sci-fi absurdity of their oddly organic designs. These (and numerous other) solo displays felt generous and weighty.

All biennials warp time, in one way or another. Some, to varying extents, waste it. It’s hard not to be hassled and hurried while visiting dozens of exhibitions that demand patient attention, requiring quality time. But in general, time feels well spent at ‘Le Printemps de Septembre’. One factor is the considered profusion of one-person shows: a lot of artists are included here, but few contributions seem slight. Not all, inevitably, succeed. The five films of Ange Leccia’s installation Girls, Ghosts and War (2018), at Maison Salvan, combine archival footage shot over the past three decades in the US, Asia and the Middle East with dreamy images of solitary young women, in a style that seems superficial and manipulative. Backed by the drift and drone of a distorted, shoe-gazey soundtrack, Leccia’s films of conflict-afflicted landscapes depend heavily on a very stable, conventional standard of feminine beauty, using women’s faces and bodies as little more than symbolic-erotic props. It’s an exceptional case of jarring cliché in a context in which most of the selected art is, otherwise, both exacting and exciting – offering surprising, complex responses to the conflicts and tensions of our convulsive times. 

Main image: Sarkis, Mesure de la Lumière (Measure of Light), 2018, installation view, Couvent des Jacobins, Toulouse. © Printemps de Septembre; photograph: Damien Aspe

Declan Long

Declan Long is programme director of the MA course Art in the Contemporary World at the National College of Art & Design, Dublin, Ireland.


City Report /

Le Printemps de Septembre
City Report
Declan Long
Latifa Echakhch
Bruno Gironcoli
David Byrne

九月的春天——图卢兹当代艺术双年展的定义性概念——看起来,现在,像是一个非常令人愉快的前景。根据你的困境或观点,在即将到来的夏天即将到来的狂风暴雨的结束之时,不管是喜庆的热浪阴霾,还是令人不安的末日气候的预感,没有什么事情比倒退时间的不可能的梦想更有吸引力了。天气倒退,在春天打刷新。这样看来,这可能是“九月”的幻想。在资深馆长克里斯蒂安·伯纳德的指导下,这个丰富多彩的两年一度的展览会再次邀请我们分享一个秋天取代的王子们:一个城市及其周边地区艺术的盛开——表面上,这个提议是一个乐观、仁慈的公民慷慨。我们可以想象,艺术就像春天:伴随着复兴,新的生命,更多的光。但是,如果——为了让心情变暗——这个春季奖金不会抵消即将到来的秋天,而是与秋天重合,使秋天复杂化呢?如果,事实上,展览的自负暗示着一种混乱的,拥挤的时间感:春天和秋天的奇怪同时发生。季节性的觉醒、出生和开始,同时伴随着衰退和堕落。当然,这种压抑和干扰的气氛对于艺术动荡多变的天气来说似乎比任何乐观、乐观、乐观的景象都真实,而且以无序的时间感来衡量,一种事物不同步和顺序的状况,也更适合我。我们自己的烦恼时光。我想起了Roni Horn曾经说过的一句话:“天气是我们这个时代的关键悖论。”好天气往往是错的天气。伯纳德对这次展览的介绍——按照惯例,每两年进行一次宣传,以求在当前具有紧迫的现实意义——指出“印刷商”是如何“受到[艺术家]将自己置于历史冲突和紧张局势中的意愿的启发”。今年版的特别名称“Fracas et Frles Bruits”(Fracas et Frles Bruits)(《Fracas and Frail Sounds》)宣称,人们渴望在混乱的历史喧嚣和灾难的喧嚣中让艺术本身为人所知——但是在这些有特色的艺术品中,有相当多的作品似乎特别适合更广阔,更奇怪的节日背景的异步弹簧。这些作品令人困惑,它究竟意味着什么历史位置,或急切地捕捉到一种相反的感觉,不可预测的运动在时间的流逝。p_2367_hd.jpg Time Interrupted at Toulouse’s Contemporary Art Biennial - 图卢兹当代艺术双年展的时间中断 Latifa Echakhch,分区倒水主和马萨诸塞,2018,安装图,圣雅克(圣高登)当代艺术小教堂中心。礼仪:9月份印刷;照片:达米恩·阿斯佩。所以,例如,美国出生的巴黎“朋克缪斯”尼娜·柴尔德雷斯在保罗·杜普伊博物馆(整个展览使用的30多个场馆之一)举办的展览,就把时间顺序和类型弄得乱七八糟。博物馆陈列的正统风格——将她自己绘画的俗气的流行笑话与奥古斯丁博物馆收藏的大约40幅历史画像的古老风格混合在一起。(折衷的陈列形式,人造的天真的方法,以及对女性主题的重复关注暗示着与凯伦·基里姆尼克的对比,但是凯伦·基里姆尼克的艺术具有一种奇特的、迷人的魅力,通常不是由蔡尔德斯所达到的。)最重要的当代艺术场所也关注着对过去材料的重新定位和重新定位。Claerbourt的《黑暗光学》(Vision de Nuit)——包括1997年到2017年间完成的作品——是一部十分庄严的十屏美剧,讲述了基于镜头的媒体改变能力,使世界变得生机勃勃,或者保持静止。发掘的照片变成了细微的动画;适当的电影被彻底地编辑:这些是逐个像素的重新触摸、时间雕塑中的去力实验的具有启示性的、艰苦的产品。在位于圣高城圣雅克当代艺术中心D'art小教堂的Latifah Echakhch设计的“分隔倾倒主要部分和大部分”(手与质量分隔部分)中,一种不同类型的时间失真发生了。登机(距图卢兹一小时车程)。在这座历史建筑——以前的教堂——的高高的内墙上,Echakhch画了一幅宽阔的壁画:描绘蓝天和散落的云,这可能是对古典场景背景细节的宏大阐述。然而,艺术家小心翼翼和精确地把画削掉,去除了部分应用颜色,留下斑驳的、基本上被破坏的图像。整体效果——通过伴奏的钢琴演奏和拆卸的视频来增强——既强大又悲惨。宽敞的剧场空间预示着春天般的明亮天空的升华,但在其深刻的毁灭中,它也让人想起了阿里·史密斯的小说《秋天》(2016)中虚无主义的开场白:“那是最糟糕的时代,也是最糟糕的时代。”再一次。事情就是这样。他们分崩离析,永远分离,永远分离,永远分离,这是他们的本性。礼貌:九月份的印刷品;照片:达米恩·阿斯佩·埃查克赫充满希望的、好天气的景象费力地实现了,然后逐渐被分离开来。尽管看起来很古老,但她的作品中逐渐消失的乐观主义现在有了一种感觉,也许回想起已故的马克·费希尔对他所说的“缓慢取消未来”的担忧。d–关于过去、现在和未来,也是杰拉德·拜恩在《在我们的时代》(2017年)中在加隆剧院上映的《在我们的时代》的概念核心。伯恩的这部悠闲的长片原本是2017年为雕塑家普罗杰克特·芒斯特(Projekte Munster)拍摄的,它把我们带入了一个与世隔绝的、时间固定的虚构广播工作室。在伯父般的中年男性DJ不断、不可避免地无聊的喋喋不休的喋喋不休的喋喋不休的喋喋不休的喋不休的喋不休和演播室音乐家的无关紧要的来来来往之间(无论是建立还是结束,我们从来都不太清楚),拜恩狡猾、缓慢、不慌不忙的、平凡的场景的蒙太适合。一个未定义的持续时间,在改变组合中重复。美国的设置是非特异性的。时间也是非特定的。更确切地说,这是不可预测的。每小时的新闻更新包括20世纪70年代和80年代关于事件的明显同步的报道,好像工作室的封闭盒子可以跳跃,像塔迪一样,从一个时间段到另一个时间段。但是,当DJ提供时间校验——无线电广播的一个固定特征——时,小时和分钟与我们当前时间的精确时钟位置相匹配。就像克里斯蒂安·马克莱的《时钟》(2010)一样,这种饮食时间性与我们当前时刻的结合一直令人着迷:我们变得像广播节目的制作人和主持人一样,痴迷于精确的时间管理和标记,同时又沉迷于无休止的干燥之中。拜恩的第二部重要作品,这次是和音响艺术家斯文·安德森合作完成的,同时也是一次紧急的、当下的经历和自我意识的、不合时宜的回顾。一个可见性矩阵(2018)(显示在基金会'企业空间璜泼艺术当代)是一个庞大的视频蒙太奇,从由广泛的进一步的合作者提供的镜头。(这本身就是一个迷你双年展:罗莎·芭芭、玛芙·布伦南、邓肯·坎贝尔、威利·多尔蒂、罗莎琳德·纳沙希比、露西·瑞文等人的贡献。)拜恩和安德森强调的是物理装置——多台显示器、笨重的展示台和浓密的丛林。铺天盖地的电缆——一方面是对互联网前先锋媒体艺术的怀旧赞歌,另一方面是具有前瞻性的思辨性命题:一种批判性的、深思熟虑的离线视频分享模式,它暂时缓解了网络流媒体浪费时间的诱惑。p_2375_hd.jpg Time Interrupted at Toulouse’s Contemporary Art Biennial - 图卢兹当代艺术双年展的时间中断 Bruno Gironcoli, 'La Grande Cavalcade', 2018,安装视图, Couvent de Jacobins, Toulouse.礼貌:九月份印刷;照片:达米恩·阿斯佩.在Le Printemps的其他地方,有多次尝试来重新评价或提升来自艺术最近过去的有影响力的人物,同时对油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸油炸“历史的冲突和紧张”的破裂。例如,艺术家们进行了大量的个人陈述,寻找新的途径来显现殖民主义隐藏的历史(加隆剧院的丽莎·雷哈娜;圣雷蒙德博物馆的文森特·梅森)或试图批评传统的艺术制作体系(一种奇妙的、凶猛的)。《屠宰场》中的女性主义拼贴与水彩画有各种各样的、引人入胜的、有时被低估的艺术家的作品选择:亚历山大·克鲁格的全城系列放映;前情境主义活动家杰奎琳·德·琼(在莱斯艾博托尔斯)对绘画和雕塑的第一次法国回顾;奥地利超现实主义者布鲁诺·吉伦科利在20世纪60年代到本世纪初实现了怪诞、荒谬、机器本体的形式:重型雕塑可能暗示着工业博物馆中珍贵的历史文物,如果不是因为它们奇特的有机设计的疯狂的科幻荒谬。这些(和许多其他)独奏显示感到慷慨和沉重。所有的二年生植物都以一种或另一种方式扭曲时间。一些,到


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