An Exhibition at Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne
Paris you are creation, blanketed in frustration.
The search for magic, at angelic intervals,
for pitched sentences of vibrating words,
Console me with your wisdom……
I took the time a week ago, to venture out with fellow Artist in Residence, Margaret O’ Brien, to an art opening at Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne, more commonly called MAC/VAL. It was featuring an artist called Ange Leccia.
Friday was also my first day on the metro or bus, which we took to get there! I know, the small things in life right?! Anyway, if I was honest, I would say that at first sight, I was not impressed when I walked in. A video was playing on several massive wall installations in a giant exhibit space, maybe a hundred people were standing there looking vaguely interested and horribly intellectual, and the artists video subject was doing an average at best performance of Supertramps The Logical Song. I took a deep breath and promised myself I would give it a chance.
Post Modern Modernism
As I wandered around the gallery, with Margaret’s patient help, I started to understand a little more about the art we were checking out. Surprisingly enough, she felt it is not as modern as what is actually going on out there. As we joked about post modern modernism while looking closely at some photography in an exhibition of work by Charles Fréger called Wilder Mann, she gave me some pointers about the photos we were looking at and also about the video presentation for the Logical Song. She suggested that maybe the artists were exposing layers that we usual covered up. Maybe, not being a singer was a reason the subject was on camera, peeling back layers of social norms and making us look at a more raw state of existence. This concept actually allowed me to experience everything in the exhibit with a new sense of understanding and appreciation.
Freger’s photographs focused a lot on uniforms, masks, disguises and costumes as an almost second skin. The literature suggested that his work focused on “the construction of identity” and “the representation of the social body”. This actually made perfect sense. We look on these ‘costumes’ as weird and crazy, but yet in cultures we dress outlandish in terms of what other era’s or even other cultures might perceive. Considering that a lot of these pictures capture variations of ritualistic dress from religious or pagan past and present, its actually quiet fascinating trying to look on our existential actions as an outsider.
Making Sense of it All
After looking at various other exhibits, including Les Grands Verres by Dominique Blais, we went back in to the main exhibit room and sat through the entire Logical Song presentation – a series of videos arranged to music but in particular Supertramp’s the Logical Song. The “film exhibition” was somewhat like an intimate diary, or collection of films of the artists life, from the past and present. You could see a theme running through the work if you watched it all. We are invited to “interfere in the privacy of his reality, at the same time, returns to the spectator.”
As we watched and absorbed the piece, I noticed a rhythm of images, that helped lure the viewer on a journey through the timeline. The clips were actually very cleverly transitioning and thoughtfully ordered. For me, it was wonderful to watch an artist do their own thing and still connect with an audience on a level I had not seen before. Although I felt you really needed to be open minded, and a thinker at some level to appreciate the work, it was beyond a shadow of doubt, artistic and exceptional.
The Artistic Legacy
So what did the day achieve for me? Well, afterwards, Margaret, her friend Claudia and myself obviously went to a bar and had wine and hot chocolate as one does in Paris! Chatting about life and nationalities, it was a nice conclusion to a day of personal artistic stimulation. Before returning home to my patient computer and even more patient musical ideas, we walked further through the city and looking at some gorgeous architecture at Hôpital d’instruction des armées du Val-de-Grâce and the interesting square tower of the Institut Oceanographique at the corner of Rue Gay-Lussac and Rue Saint Jacques. Finally, after walking Claudia to the metro, it was time to come home after a really enjoyable break.
As of now, I am finally feeling connected to finishing the 2nd movement of the concerto and hope to work on this week. I am thinking if I were done with that movement by the end of the month it would be a huge start. Is it too big of a daydream? Possibly! 10 lingering cues to complete in The Letters, several suite ideas jotted down on manuscript. Doing battle with a lingering dose of insomnia, a loud construction crew on a nearby street and a level of stress I haven’t felt in years, only time will tell how this plays out…