The last week of October in Paris is generally taken up by La Foire Internationale de l’Art Contemporain (FIAC) with the many other “off” fairs and events and openings happening collaterally, pushed to the margins by the scale of events at the Grand Palais and Hors Murs, running from the October 22 to 25. Lately, especially with the introduction of (OFF)icielle, the major fair’s younger sister, these events have been providing a less centralized, but equally interesting perspective on the international contemporary art scene. In addition to having all the other fringe fairs such as Asia Now and YIA happening in parallel, this year saw the inaugural edition of Paris Internationale.
Opening on the same day as OFF, this new fair/salon is a timely intervention. It is set up on three levels and hosts 34 galleries, along with seven non-profit spaces. Founded by a consortium of five younger Parisian galleries, including Sultana, Crèvecoeur, and Antoine Levi, Paris Internationale follows in the footsteps of other smaller art fairs such as Sunday in London, Independent New York and Liste in Basel. Among the international gallery selection are Lulu and Proyectos Monclova from Mexico City, Oslo’s 1857, Chapter from New York and Sandy Brown in Berlin.
Breaking away from the standard fair model, Paris Internationale invite associations and artist-run spaces. Visitors enter through an internal courtyard that stands at the centre of the dilapidated 19th century Haussmann hôtel particulier, a townhouse of the grand kind. Some rooms are rougher and have a studio quality to them. Others, while still slightly frayed, are more elegant, typical Parisian house rooms. This is a first for an event held in the French capital. Of particular interest is an installation by Keith Farquhar at High Art, who presents childrens’ car seats attached to floor-to-ceiling metal poles and Florian Germann’s pink fountain structure at Galerie Gregor Steiger. Paris-based artist-run spaces Shanaynay and Lyon’s La Salle de Bains could be found sharing the same space with more established galleries such as Praz-Dellavallade and Croy Nielsen. It’s a curatorial choice that creates a denser, stronger and more inclusive dialogue overall, in a theme that’s further highlighted by an evening of performance with Zoe Williams and Renaud Jerez in a conversation programme centred on the question of ‘artistic agency’.
At the Grand Palais, FIAC returns for its 42nd edition directed by Jennifer Flay. Ever since the curator took over with Martin Béthenod, later carrying on alone, Flay has reestablished the fair at its original Grand Palais location, while managing to make it more accessible to a wider international audience. This year it features 172 participants, a slight decrease from last year’s 192, in an effort to reduce its numbers and provide larger booths for growing emerging galleries. Hence, there are the staple presences, including Gavin Brown, who presents dozens of works, including Joan Jonas, Martin Creed and Rirkrit Tiravanija, covering the walls and hidden behind a theatrical red velvet curtain. Paris’ Galerie Jerome Poggi shows the politically charged flower arrangements of Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga and Swiss gallery, Karma International, presents the works of Ida Ekblad, Mélanie Matranga and Pamela Rosenkranz. Rosenkranz, whose recent installation can be viewed at at the Venice Biennale, here smears Bellini paintings with the average-European-skin-tone pigment that she developed for the pool at the Swiss Pavilion. Meanwhile, Matranga whose current solo exhibition is up at the Palais de Tokyo, presents silicone casts of Parisian ceiling friezes and a glue-encased double bed.
Meanwhile, London’s Pilar Corrias presents ‘Emissary Forks at Perfection’ (2015), a video by Ian Cheng and ‘Marquee’ a blue light installation by Philippe Parreno. Ugo Rondinone’s work at Gladstone Gallery’s booth is timed to coincide with the exhibition he curated at Palais de Tokyo, I <3 John Giorno, which reprises the work of the American poet and performance artist John Giorno.
Paris’ New Galerie booth is also noteworthy, presenting the works of Jasper Spicero, who is showing two pieces and a video installation from his project Centers in Pain and a Dora Budor sculpture recently exhibited at the New York Swiss Institute. Carrying on a process she calls “reanimation”, the artist works on the object’s fictional quality (usually miniature cinema-props that were originally featured in Hollywood blockbuster films) and recontextualizes them.
Prix Marcel Duchamp laureate Neïl Beloufa, whose work is on view at the Balice Hertling booth, also organised a group exhibition earlier in the week in the Paris suburb of Villejuif. C’est la Vie? was hosted in an industrial building with a Hollywood film set working as backdrop to the works of Beloufa, Camille Blatrix, Crystele Nicot, and Emile Vappereau among others. For the exhibition, Beloufa discusses the premises, which used to be his atelier and for now has become a temporary art centre. Departing from the process of gentrification, the issue is that constructing something can also lead to its destruction. C’est la Vie? analyses how this process is possibly transferred to the works during their production. It’s a discourse that’s echoed in the ‘Voices of Urgency’ FIAC conversations programme, where the importance of investment in the present is reflected not only in the talks touching on contemporaneity and how our future is constructed, but on the wealth of new talent in the FIAC week ‘happening’ as a whole. **
Select arrow, top right, for exhibition photos.