The Troubled Waters of Permeability! features 14 international artists from Algeria, France, Germany, Ireland, and Korea, alongside American artists with diverse backgrounds including China, India and Europe.
Permeability between fields as ostensibly opposed as art and science, or as contrasting as technology and illustration, seems to provide an increasingly significant arena in current contemporary art practice. As technology, for example, has become a necessary and obsessive component of our present lives, playing successively benevolent or negative roles, it is not surprising that it has inspired much artistic creation and reflection. Since the 1970’s, artists have been striving to make everyday life more than merely a subject by becoming an indivisible part of art if not an artform in itself. “Art is what makes life more interesting than art” said Robert Filliou. At the same time, narrative has been slowly re-entering the realm of fine arts since the 1980’s after having been somewhat banished for more than half a century. In order to explore storytelling under new forms, fine art borrows among others, the efficient tools of illustration and moviemaking. Crossing boundaries between genres and fields also seems to proceed from a recent democratization of art, particularly of certain media such as photography and video but equally from the explosion of availability of an ever greater array of affordable possibilities and choices in our modern societies.
Both David McQueen and Electronic Shadow (a collaborative group presented for the first time in an American gallery) hybridize technology, nature, architecture and human presence, and imbue their creations with poetry. Some works of art are not always what they seem: Caroline McCarthy’s photography or Yazid Oulab’s videos oscillate between sculpture, performance, painting and sometimes even incantation. What the viewer sees in both these artists’ work is mostly a trace of an ephemeral process, activity or construct. Géraldine Pastor-Lloret, Chitra Ganesh and Fay Ku’s works walk on the edges of the territories of illustration through the forms that they invent and twist, aswell as through their use of cryptic and fascinating narratives based on cultural and personal myths or stories. Aesthetically extremely diverse, Jeremy Bronson and David Bronson generate captivating surrealistic and complete universes consisting in videos close to movies, illustration works, animation, drawings, sculptures and installations. Both Soyeon Cho and Pamela Hadfield use the mundane (everyday-life objects, food substances) and transcend it into surprising and touching beauties: whether pure or tainted with their contrary. Nora Krug (who confronts Borgès in the work that she displays in the show), and Paul Hoppe, are renowned illustrators. The quality and scale of their works crosses de facto any possible aesthetic or mental frontier. Finally, Patrick Martinez handles ambiguity as an art and develops a complex, strong, tragic and humoristic drawing practice through video: a medium that seems so far from drawing itself.
With the awareness of the dangers and paradoxes generated by such a subject, The Troubled Waters of Permeability! explores the diverse practices embracing transgression through an arsenal of weapons that favor beauty and subtlety over agressivity and over provocation… In the end, this could simply be part of a humanistic will (in the 18th century sense of the word) to engage in a simultaneous exploration of what it means to be an artist, at the same time as being a human being.
Curated by Hélianthe Bourdeaux-Maurin