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Paris
P1020825
Group Exhibition
Bugada & Cargnel
7-9 rue de l'Equerre, 75019 Paris, France
September 17, 2008 - November 21, 2008


Change Bulb
by Natalie Hegert


With an intriguing title like Occupancy by More Than 6'682'685'387 Persons is Dangerous and Unlawful - Part One, Pierre Bismuth's show at Cosmic Galerie promises some unexpected twists. The whole show, in fact, is a twist: each work in the show is created as a collaboration between Bismuth and another artist on the theme of Bismuth's own work, but beyond the notion of collaboration, the notion of sabotage and appropriation enters the equation, as each work challenges the notion of authorship and originality. The most striking piece as one enters the exhibition is Shallow, a collaboration between Bismuth and Stefan Brüggemann: the self-effacing words "(NO CONTENT)" are represented in neon tubing by Brüggemann over which Bismuth sprayed the synonym "SHALLOW" in a graffiti-like indictment of the work as well as an affirmation of what it says, creating a tailspin of meaning.

Next to Shallow are two identical canvases by Gardar Eide Einarsson, the second of which is brashly cut up by Bismuth, the pieces splayed on the floor in front of the canvas whose wooden structure is revealed behind the holes created by Bismuth. Another series with Cyprien Gaillard features four antique postcards partially obscured by ripped pieces of white paper. In "collaboration" Pierre Bismuth merely signed the white paper, in an openly challenging claim of authorship.

But in case you're wondering, Pierre Bismuth didn't just invite his fellow artists to create works for his show and his idea of "collaborating" is to flippantly destroy them, either to sign the works off as his, spray paint over them or cut them up. It seems more like the collaboration comes into play as the two artists discuss the most efficient way to negate their own work, to hi-jack it, to play with sabotage and embezzlement of meaning, to "détourne" it.

One of the strongest proponents of the method of détournement, or the plagiarism and rearrangement of pre-existing visual elements to create a new, subverted meaning, was Guy Debord, who advocated its use as a revolutionary tool. His influence does not go unmentioned, as in a classic turn, the master of détournement is détourned himself: his film La Société du Spectacle which is composed almost entirely of pirated footage of other films, edited into a critique of modern society using that society's very own language and images, is appropriated in its entirety by Bismuth and Cory Arcangel. The relevance of the film is immediately and simply, yet indirectly, called into question by the sign of technical failure obscuring the picture, as the video projector instructs us to "Change Bulb" in lo-fi video font throughout the film.

Pierre Bismuth and his co-conspirators show us how quickly one can alter meaning in a work of art, and a minimal intervention can be all it takes to completely sabotage and "destabilize the codes of reading" of cultural objects. Occupancy by More Than 6'682'685'387 Persons is a very smart show, with tongue-in-cheek playfulness and lots of twists. Make sure to also check out the essay (in English) in the free magazaine CODE, issue 07, by Aaron Schuster about his collaboration with Bismuth, Famous, a play on Warhol and a comment on our "time-addled millenarian moment."

 

--Natalie Hegert

(*Images, from top to bottom: Pierre Bismuth, Occupancy by More Than 6'682'685'387 Persons is Dangerous and Unlawful - Part 1, September 17 - November 7, 2008; Cosmic Galerie, with Aaron Schuster, Famous, 2008, photo by Natalie Hegert. Pierre Bismuth, Occupancy by More Than 6'682'685'387 Persons is Dangerous and Unlawful - Part 1, September 17 - November 7, 2008; Cosmic Galerie, with Stefan Brüggemann, Shallow, 2008, neon tubing, spraypaint, photo by Natalie Hegert.  Pierre Bismuth, Occupancy by More Than 6'682'685'387 Persons is Dangerous and Unlawful - Part 1, September 17 - November 7, 2008; Cosmic Galerie, with Gardar Eide Einarsson, Antisocial, 2008, photo by Natalie Hegert. Pierre Bismuth, Occupancy by More Than 6'682'685'387 Persons is Dangerous and Unlawful - Part 1, September 17 - November 7, 2008; Cosmic Galerie, with Cory Arcangel, Untitled, video still, photo by Natalie Hegert.  Pierre Bismuth, Occupancy by More Than 6'682'685'387 Persons is Dangerous and Unlawful - Part 1, September 17 - November 7, 2008; Cosmic Galerie, installation view, photo by Natalie Hegert.)

 

 



Posted by Natalie Hegert on 10/6/08

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