Following her Capp Street Artist in Residence, Paris based artist collective Claire Fontaine will present an exhibition entitled Redemptions on the occasion of the opening of the new CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art's Kent and Vicki Logan gallery.
Redemptions radically transforms the space and obliges the viewer to perceive the artwork as an oppressive presence, almost a threat. The installation consisting of many thousands of cans stashed in plastic bags, presents itself as a metaphor but it also has an intense material and sculptural dimension. Redeemed from their status of trash, the crowd of cans deploys an unexpected beauty. Their hollowness draws as a watermark the trajectories of the disappeared liquids inside multitudes of unknown bodies and the comings and goings of vagrants, homeless and unemployed people that collected these empty shells.
The project should also be interpreted in respect to the specific concern of the artist with the use value of objects and culture. The artist suspends for a moment the continuous cycle of exploitation of the cans (used, abandoned, melted and re-used virtually forever) creating a form of redemption for them, that from the condition of value-less and meaningless objects become artworks, mimicking the possible salvation of people continuously evicted from the productive cycle and deprived of a destiny by poverty.
Redemption is there to be seen as both, a material process of re-use of perished materials and a messianic hope for a superior social and human justice that will repair the wrongs.
In the third Thesis on the Concept of History Walter Benjamin writes that for the redeemed mankind the totality of the past is quotable and nothing is lost for history. Redemption is depicted there as the full ownership and accessibility of history by everyone, and this accessibility to one’s and everybody’s destiny takes place under the sign of happiness. But this happiness isn’t a new one, it’s the familiar joy and fulfillment we are used to, that comes from habits, repetition, familiar possibilities as we can read beforehand in the same text: “the kind of happiness that could arouse envy in us exists only in the air we have breathed, among people we could have talked to, women who could have given themselves to us. In other words, our image of happiness is indissolubly bound up with the image of redemption.”
Claire Fontaine is a Paris-based collective artist, founded in 2004. After lifting her name from a popular brand of school notebooks, Claire Fontaine declared herself a "readymade artist" and began to elaborate a version of neo-conceptual art that often looks like other people's work. Working in neon, video, sculpture, painting and text, her practice can be described as an ongoing interrogation of the political impotence and the crisis of singularity that seem to define contemporary art today. But if the artist herself is the subjective equivalent of a urinal or a Brillo box - as displaced, deprived of its use value, and exchangeable as the products she makes - there is always the possibility of what she calls the "human strike." Claire Fontaine uses her freshness and youth to make herself a whatever-singularity and an existential terrorist in search of subjective emancipation. She grows up among the ruins of the notion of authorship, experimenting with collective protocols of production, détournements, and the production of various devices for the sharing of intellectual and private property.
Please note that this exhibition will be held at the Wattis' new Kent and Vicki Logan Gallery on 360 Kansas Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. Please call 415-703-9305 for more information.