During their only encounter, Jacques Tati, who spoke little English, and Buster Keaton, who did not understand French, both engaged in burlesque pantomimes with the use of a chair, chair tricks. The object took the place of language, representing a common language. Without being animists, they both spoke Chair.
Frankly, there is no great merit in an exhibition of chairs. Simply perusing the pages of several reviews, of several general overviews of art history, would suffice to constitute a considerable number of contemporary works implying a chair--enough to amply fill a whole museum and satisfy the tastes of those who like one-word-exhibitions.
It is not surprising that the symbol of the presence of an absence has been a recurrent theme of modernity from Van Gogh to Paul Thek, from Alvin Lucier to Joseph Kosuth. Is the work of art not the inert object of an encounter, the space of thought left vacant by the artist to become the receptacle of references, the seat of ideas and individual desires that recompose a specific personal hybridity ? More than an exhibition of objects, Assises, invites a reflection on the comportment of individuals. What is at stake in the recurrent symbol of the chair in art is the problematic relationship of the artist to social thought to which the artist addresses their work while maintaining a critical distance. The title of the exhibition plays on the double meaning in French that designates an object on which one sits and the tributaries where one can be the unfortunate victim of negative public judgment. The chair incarnates the fragile omnipresence of a creator of the world, a self-portrait of the artist as social animal.
The exhibition Assises is the occasion to discover rare works, such as the little-known sculpture by the important Greek artist Lucas Samaras, artist of this year's Greek Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and who photographed the cream of New York society in their primitive nudity, seated on, yes, a chair. Céleste Boursier-Mougenot presents Keyboardchairs, a surprising work that conjugates musical harmony and the diktat of good manners in an installation of chamber music in the form of a waiting room. The chair is one of the principal personages of the humorist-existentialist cosmology of Philippe Ramette. His Fauteuil Seatcom, made for an exhibition at the Chamarand Chateau and presented at the MAMCO in Geneva last summer, condemns the spectator seeking repose to become the victim of prefabricated canned laughter from television sitcoms, as if surprised on a throne of shame. The exhibition Assises also invites visitors to discover the work of emerging artists such as Michel de Broin, Canadian artist living in Berlin, or Vlatka Horvat, a Croatian native living in New York.