Advert, Insert, Cover, Headline
The exhibition hopes to reveal the commonalities, mysterious to this day, that connect two regions, London and the Lake Geneva region, despite their geographical distance. Organised according to a specific typology - adverts, inserts, covers, titles, headlines - it gathers a heterogeneous mix of artists. While brandishing its authoritative banner, this conservative organisation hopes, paradoxically, to allow artistic projects to show their uniqueness in their particular relation to the media. In this stratification, writer James Graham Ballard's work weaves a leitmotiv through these central and peripheral intrigues.
Whereas some of Adam McEwen's paintings alternate between abstraction and figuration, despicable everyday life and air traffic disasters, Francis Baudevin's abstractions upturn the dream of transforming the mundane through art, borrowing the graphic compositions of everyday products' packaging, from the kitchen to the first-aid box. Jeremy Deller's indexing processes (folk collection, reenactment) have little to do with Philippe Decrauzat's perceptive processes. Both artists, however, share the concept of "dehierarchisation" and "declusterisation" of culture into a constellation within which both artists drift - from montage to montage - to unveil unknown stories. Nearby, whether nurturing an environmental concept of painting or bringing it to his doorstep, Stéphane Dafflon experiences art's stylistic elasticity. The exhibition could borrow the slogan "Yes To All", a phrase particularly close to Sylvie Fleury's heart, which aims to conceive art in a blurry opening on to consumerism and underground practices as many subjection and emancipation processes, while Scott King weakens "diagrammatical" authority through various discursive strategies.
Writer J. G. Ballard (1930-2009) is often associated with the "science fiction" genre - a labelling to be handled with care. The term "science fiction" enters everyone's vocabulary as early as the late 1920's with the very popular pulp magazines. The launch of Sputnik in 1957 and the live transmission on television of Kennedy's assassination in particular have motivated Ballard to redefine the relation between science fiction and imagery.
Amongst photocopy collage experiments (Project For A New Novel, 1958) and the first dummy advertisement as an insert in the Ambit magazine (1967), the novel The Drowned World (1962) depicts a world set in 2040, oppressed by an increased global warming. In a mobile biological testing station a couple, Kerans and Beatrice Dahl, strive to enjoy their passionate love amidst physiological upheaval, emergency and natural disaster. This novel unfolds along the principle of reversal. Here, narrator Kerans hypothesises that a painting by Max Ernst can influence the moods of its owner, the beautiful Beatrice. Elsewhere, the advancing drowning alters all taxonomies. On this point Bodkin, a colleague of Kerans's, posits, "I'm convinced that as we move back through geophysical time so we re-enter the amniotic corridor and move back through spinal and archaeopsychic time ... a total reorientation of personality". Civilisation would go back up the course of evolution, in other words, an "entropy".
With this same reversal principle, Ballard has fundamentally redefined science fiction by redirecting the focus usually on outer space towards the depth of the soul. Following the principle of generalised reversal, Ballard also re-established the connections between art and reality. Just as Max Ernst's landscape exerts an influence on Beatrice's temperament, so do the works in the exhibition described in The Atrocity Exhibition testify to the ubiquitous global cataclysm as the artists and patients are clearly affected by the nursing staff's general depression. The external landscapes are therefore the reflection of the internal catastrophe. At the same moment, Travis, a character of many names, gathers various images in turn scientific, surrealistic and of disasters.
"For the first time [in the 1960s] the public dream of Hollywood and of the spectator's private imagination overstimulated by television have merged into one."
Conscious of the falsification of the world submerged in media hyperrealism, Ballard relentlessly described this loss of reality in order to build a variety of poetic systems. In The Atrocity Exhibition, Travis attempts to make his wife's body coincide with that of a TV celebrity. Talbot follows a bomber pilot up to a "tableau sculpture representing a Saigon street execution", "a labyrinth of billboards".
The same year, the writer creates The Assassination Weapon (1969), an exhibition at the London ICA, the programme of which announces a "performance [or] a transmedia search 'for reality'", "an extraordinary sound-and-image theatre presentation" where "a rotating circular screen catches the sliding images of Ballard's narrative, mixing ... fantasy/fact elements of inner and outer reality" in "a kaleidoscope of fact and fiction" for "a meditative experience". The following year, he presented a second exhibition, "New Sculpture" at the New Arts Laboratory Gallery (London), displaying a series of crashed cars. The writer describes this exhibition as a scientific experiment challenging the viewer with a car crash, a phenomenon involving the most advertised commercial product. In his famous The Mechanical Bride. Folklore of Industrial Man (1951), looking at media production, Marshall McLuhan compares the discontinuity of articles on a first page of the New York Times with that of Picasso and Joyce and calls it "one thousand and one nights entertainment". About the media, Ballard would have easily agreed with McLuhan on conceiving it as "a phantasmagoria" halted for contemplation.
During Frieze week, BISCHOFF/WEISS will be open at the following times:
Wednesday 3rd: 9.30am - 7pm
Thursday 4th: 10am - 7pm
Friday 5th: 10am - 7pm
Saturday 6th: 10am - 6pm