The Fribourg Art Center takes pleasure in presenting its latest exhibition, mounted in conjunction with the festivities marking twenty years of activity within its walls. In a twist on a title belonging to the Swiss poet Philippe Jaccottet, Landscapes with Absent Figures features the work of eleven international artists.
Anniversaries tend to involve the processes of remembering and of compiling archives, all of which could seem somewhat paradoxical for an art center—a venue that, by definition, is firmly entrenched in the present or even the future, given its eye on emerging talents. Contrary to museums, art centers do not collect, do not accumulate anything other than documentary achives set up to counter the inevitable oversights, fadeouts and omissions that are equally part of their history. Only imperfectly can exhibitions convey what they have to say through remaining texts and images. And just as imperfectly, although ever so accurately, are they reflected in views of them held by visitors: views that are subjective, entailing fragments of recollections and exchanges of impressions, accounts that for better or for worse substitute for the erstwhile direct relationship with the works, while nonetheless very much the essence of that relationship with the oeuvre.
For a period of twenty years of activity and, importantly, for the years that lie ahead, a recurrent motif par excellence is the emptying and subsequent re-filling of spaces. Hence, this show gives pride of place to a certain immateriality belonging to the works. It insists on the display spaces as sites of possibles, as so many landscapes that, rather than giving viewers something at which to gaze, appeal to their memory or to their deepened awareness of the present moment. The intent is to bring out this subjective, mental activity—an activity as multiple as it is singular—while at the same time covering the tenses of any story: the past, the present and the upcoming. As such, archival content serves as a counter-model for a show where the works use evasive tactics to guide viewers back to their own powers of perception.