As one of two exhibitions showing concurrently at Birsfelden’s SALTS, Geneva-based artist Pauline Beaudemont‘s L’Age D’or takes its name from Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s 1930 “surrealist comedy” of the same name. It’s a film that ends on an allusion to De Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom, a Libertine fiction that celebrates hedonism at all costs by the author from which ‘sadism’ takes its very name. In Beaudemont’s exhibition the theme takes on a more modern turn, if not literally for its fixation on the modernist architecture that reached critical mass when L’Age D’Or was still inciting riots, then for the line that it draws between popular culture with the consumerism it peddles and the destruction it perpetuates.
Concrete casts made from opulent industrial cake moulds in the shape of classical architectonic shapes prop up a composite aluminium table top in ‘James’ (2014). It features a film still from John Hughes’ 1986 cult comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, where supporting character Cameron Frye’s father’s convertible flies through the shattered bay window of James Speyer’s 1954 modernist landmark ‘Rose House’. It’s a reproduction of what was a replica of architect and textile designer Ben Rose’s glass garage, built by the film’s production team to be destroyed by Ferris Bueller. A folding screen called ‘Walter’ (2014) features the ‘International Style’ of Walter Gropius (et al.)’s MetLife building after being torn up by Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla.
A few works with men’s names are surrounded by a seven-channel video – five through CRT screens, one projected on its own wall and another through semi-transparent doors – of Beaudemont’s ‘If you put a roof on…‘ (2012). It’s a film shot in iconic architect and misogynist Le Corbusier’s Maison Blanche as dance hall queen AmZone performs the same sensual dance moves across seven rooms within its cold white walls. These she repeats until the film of a handheld Bolex camera, similar to one the architect owned, runs out, as manmade objects end while the woman carries on. **