The industrial-style Galerie Chantal Carousel is transformed to a postmodern living-room for Band à part (‘Band of Outsiders’). With its title taken from Jean Luc-Godard’s Nouvelle Vague film, viewers sit in front of TVs surrounded by flower pots, remote control and headphones at their disposal. There are four big sets, with a DVD player incorporated, two chairs in front of each. The combination of high art with the every day is achieved by adding a surveillance camera showing Parisian artist Jean-Luc Moulène’s Soleil noir (‘Black Sun’), a silent color video of the sun on loop. The videos on the screens vary in theme, time and technique, symbolic of the contemporary variety at our disposal and our resulting inability to concentrate on one thing for too long; a comment on our cultural ADD created by abundance and the visual stimuli that dominates.
You could argue that the public always has a choice on what to look at when entering an art space. But the fact is, in being given a remote and simulating the very intimate experience of watching TV at home, with that comes a certain necessity for restraint, thus creating an interesting viewing experience in a public space. Adding to that, is the fact that the art works vary in time, as well as style, from the study in realism by filming a runner in real time in Melik Ohanian‘s At Late to a satire of TV and the function of media in society in Sean Snyder‘s Schema (Television).
Near the main room of the exhibition, there is only one work that is exempted from the main process. Projected on a high definition screen on the floor, with no option for changing channels is Claire Fontaine‘s I. A ‘comment within a comment’ on modern technology and the relationship between the user and the product, the video depicts the intricate destruction of an iPhone as a cathartic gesture. Starting by removing the sim card and proceeding its burning and crushing it portrays the destruction of something precious to some, necessary to others or just plain desire to others. The fact it’s a flat high definition screen seems ironic, to say the least.
However, I is an accurate depiction of the compulsive need created by modern society to consume, forever desiring the next thing, at the same time as the frustration that comes with the knowledge that this need is fictitious and not internal. If Snyder’s bleak idea of freedom is correct and “freedom is the freedom to choose a channel” then Band à part takes this notion to new level by inviting you to choose the artwork of your liking, even if you don’t know what that liking is. **