Wednesday, December 8, 2010

JLG - Voyage(s) en Utopie

In the summer of 2006, Godard had an extensive installation piece at the Pompidou Center in Paris called Voyage(s) en Utopie.  I had the chance to see the exhibit and at that time I wasn’t that familiar with Godard’s work (aside from a couple of his films) so I missed the full impact on the piece.  However, looking back at the exhibit I see how this body of work fits into Godard’s work and hits on many of the ideas that we have talked about in class.            

What I remember being struck with first and foremost is the unfinished look of the entire exhibit.  Compared to other installations in at the museum, it seemed sparse, and really still in process of installation.  Wires ran down walls or were gathered into groups in corners.  Power cables, DVD players, and connections to televisions weren’t hidden and there were objects like broken and unfinished flooring and other debris throughout the installation.  Taking on this Brechtian self-awareness the exhibit keeps the spectator at arms length while, its non-linear arrangement required the viewer’s participation in its construction. 

The exhibit was comprised of three rooms, but there was no specific order or narrative structure to follow.  Its openness forced the spectator to create their own connections between rooms, and objects within them to form some sort of meaning.  In essence it was like walking through a Godard film, frozen in time.  I also remember the apartment setup and the use of multiple flat panel monitors that showed clips from various films, most notably the pornography (both straight and gay) that played on the monitor that was acting as the kitchen table. 

Not part of any exhibit, there was a makeshift homeless tent camp outside of the museum also struck me.  The tents were a really moving juxtaposition between the reality of economy, and the artificiality of the museum experience.  I was suddenly very aware of the fact that I was standing in this incredibly complex constructed environment created by an artist who would often criticize capitalist economies, while the reality of those who are left out of the process was on the other side of the glass, in the world of the real. 

That is the extent of my immediate memory of the exhibit, but I was able to find a great detailed review of the work in Post Modern Culture by Jehanne-Marie Gavarini that details the exhibit and places it into the context of JLG’s work and helped to remember more details.   Gavarini also fills in the history of the exhibit and how it was not Godard’s original idea, which was rejected by the State funded Pompidou Center.   I am also including a link to photos taken at the exhibit (not by me) which provide more visuals, including the homeless camp outside of the window (which interestingly enough is blocked from view of those outside of the museum, but not from within).  

Read Article HERE
See Photos HERE 

Kevyn Fairchild 

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