Best of 2004
Décembre 2004

Jeff Rian : Paris on the ground 


"In a recent conversation, Baptiste Debombourg, a former Ecole des beaux Arts student who showed at The Store and participated in L'Impasse's first exhibition, suggested to me that his peers are tring to escape the cultural dominance of the baby-boom generation, their greater numbers, and their conceptual art practices. Boomers were the first to grow up with TV; they showed sophisticated versions of Pop art in abandoned factories renovated by postmodern architects; they glorified loft living, museum stores, classic rock, MTV, art fairs, glossy magazines- and a designer lifstyle that this generation can no longer afford. In France Boomer, with few exceptions, abandoned painting and drawing, and as professors they hardly bother to teach these media anymore.


A middle generation-Douglas Coupland's Gen-Xers-created political correctness and installation art; they used personal computers to make amateur magazines and allied art with fashion. In france, the strongest manifestation of this generation-the youngest  generation's older siblings, so to speak-has been the Palais de Tokyo, a nationally funded pseudosquat whose unfinished interior looks like a construction site and is regularly redecorated with international scatter art along with videos and photographs of every stripe. Neither a museum nor a squat, the Palais de Tokyo's identity remains unclear, particularly to a new generation of artits and curators suspicious of the one that came before them." Many of this younger generation of artists were the Boomers' students. They grew up in a world of computers, camcorders, and an evolution in graphic communication that combined drawing and coloring with mouse clicks and screen images. And so they experiment with every conceivable medium and process but are criticized by Boomers for their misérabiliste mix of materials and styles; for not caring enough about history - or the end of history, in Boomer parlance; and for being too commercially oriented.

But to get a truer sens of the work appearing in these spaces, consider the examples of Debombourg and Olivier Soulerin, two artists from the emerging generation. At The Store, Debombourg presented Codes Articles, 2004, an inexpensive bookshelf, cabinet, table, and chairs that he hammered to pieces, then painstakingly glued back together, enough to be usable. The title comes from France's penal code and the work suggestively expresses a pathetic fallacy, borne from the found objects' debilitating scars resulting from severe trauma inflicted upon them."



Jeff Rian is a writer, art critic and a musician. He is contributor to Art in America, Frieze, Flash Art, & View on Colour. He is an editor of Purple magazine



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