No artsy thing gets me quite as excited as hearing there is a new exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. This month’s exhibition, presenting itself in three parts is L’État du Ciel. The Palais de Tokyo is not a normal contemporary art museum where the usual scene is people drifting in front of strange installations secretly wondering to themselves how many other people actually get what they’re looking at. That pile of string on the floor? Probably something to do with mass consumption and how we’re all going to hell for turning the holy concept of the “Self” into the “Selfie” (a potentially valid point despite a pretentious presentation). At one exhibition opening, I even saw a group of people gathered around a fire extinguisher thinking it was another work of “art.” They looked quite absorbed. The gallerist looked stressed. Lack of plaque is always a giveaway.
Come inside the exhibition…
Going to the Palais de Tokyo is like going on an adventure. It is a multi-floor labyrinth of space with an industrial, exposed-cement, unfinished vibe. But what makes their curating so unique is that it is most often interactive. You become immersed in the experience of art and that distracting Self-consciousness that one often feels before someone else’s creation is forgotten.
Experience and perception coalesce into an immersive sensory encounter between participant and creation.
I decided not to look up the exhibition before I went. I wanted to go in blind. After leaving, I still had no clue what I just experienced. But L’État du Ciel according to the internet was a multi-artist, multi-disciplinary reflection on how political, moral and cultural factors shape our world.
The exhibition opens with a floor covered in film projections, and unfolds onto a mattress getting ripped by a whipping saw, to a massive space filled by a labyrinth of towering tires with nooks of duct tape covered couches and open fires, not excluding the fully functioning duct tape café with signs that read “Freud is a unicorn.” It is hardcore hipster, annoying at times, but immensely entertaining, nonetheless.
So who and what is responsible for the exhibition?
L’État du Ciel is made up of film installations by Didi-Huberman; reflections on the fall from the Berlin wall to the Twin Towers by Gérard Wacjam and Marie de Brugerolle; Hiroshi Sugimoto’s lamentations over the disappearance of humanity; an exploration of the tragedies of Chernobyl and Fukushima by Angelika Markul; the human-machine hybrids of David Douard; digital variations by Ed Atkins; a sprawling dystopian installation entitled Flamme Eternelle by Thomas Hirschhorn inciting the participation of over 200 poets and philosophers in a debate between the effects of the relationship of art and philosophy on our consciousness.
“L’état du ciel c’est la nuit”
“The state of the sky is the night”