Contemporary Art: unveiling the 22nd edition of the Marcel Duchamp Prize
While the Marcel Duchamp Prize Exhibition is being held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris from 5 October 2022 until 2 January 2023, our expert Laurent Issaurat, Head of Art Banking services at Societe Generale Private Banking, met with Aurélie Verdier, Exhibition Curator(1).
Laurent Issaurat: How were the artists nominated for the Marcel Duchamp Prize selected?
Aurélie Verdier: The selection process for the Marcel Duchamp Prize is in a relatively long format, since the ADIAF organizes meetings with artists during the year before the Prize, in the company of a curator of the National Museum of Modern Art. During these months, workshop visits take place, according to the interests and wishes of ADIAF members. And then, step by step, a tighter list of artists' names is drawn. The ADIAF then organizes a vote in which all its 300 members are invited to participate in order to choose the artists who seem eligible for the Marcel Duchamp Prize. In the end, some 20 names from this vote are submitted to the ADIAF Internal Selection Committee which is responsible for selecting the four artists nominated; during a day of intense discussions – the latter, in relation to the 22nd edition in progress, took place on last 12 January. The laureate is chosen by an international jury of experts - directors of major museums, collectors, French and foreign - who will meet this year on 17 October.
Laurent Issaurat: Could you introduce us in a few words the four artists of this 22nd edition of the Prize?
Aurélie Verdier: The practice of these artists testifies to the extreme vitality and diversity of the active scene today in France. This year’s artists come from very international geographical horizons. Thus, Iván Argote was born in Bogota, Giulia Andreani in Venice, Philippe Decrauzat in Lausanne and Mimosa Echard comes from Alès, in the Gard (French department, South of France). This international aspect resonates with a plurality of artistic practices, which do not prevent artists from having common points. Giulia Andreani, for example, is a painter, trained in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, as well as Philippe Decrauzat, who certainly defines himself as such, even if his practice extends to film and installation. So we can say that we have two painters for this 2022 edition, however different they may be. Iván Argote has been practising sculpture, installation and video - often taking as a starting point an intervention in public space - for more than fifteen years now. Mimosa Echard, finally, has a largely multimedia practice even if, in the background, the arrangements of composite materials, that are the basis of her work, form an object that could be described as « painting ». Her work is based on the creation of diverse ecosystems that produce these “picture objects”.
Laurent Issaurat: Could you tell us about the projects developed by these four artists for the 2022 Prize exhibition? Are there common points, resonances, common threads that would link these projects?
Aurélie Verdier: This exhibition is a snapshot of the artistic scene in France, in its extreme variety. But this is not the result of a curatorial exhibition work to bring artists together because of the community of their research, in a predetermined direction. That being said, these artists, like all important artists, work in the present. From then on, certain themes emerge and come together. The forms that the artworks take are very different. What is exciting is that, as the 2022 exhibition’s projects came to fruition, common issues were also emerging – I am thinking in particular of a way of rethinking historical narratives and questioning the “verticality”, the unilateral aspect, of some of these narratives. I am thinking here of Giulia Andreani and Iván Argote, who capture history from a critical, decolonial and feminist point of view.
Iván Argote shows an installation consisting of three videos from interventions in the public space, made in Paris, Madrid and Rome. The artist wished that the public could view them inside a sculptural device: we can sit on fragments of dismembered obelisks, symbol of this vertical power precisely. Argote leads us to explore the «unthinkable» of our post-colonial and decolonial situation, by taking an interest in these monuments that are no longer seen in public space, which are the story of a history of the victors. A story, stories that the artist proposes to the public to reclaim, in order to question them and forge critical tools of discussion.
Giulia Andreani is also a «historian» painter who works with the archive. Each work uses photographs that form the less visible frame of history, sometimes that of women who have worked in the shadows – such as these artists, Lucienne Heuvelmans, Hannah Höch and Valentine Prax, to whom she pays tribute through sculptures. Her work for the Marcel Duchamp Prize shows in two large cinematic paintings the assignment of the woman as a nurturer and protector on the one hand, and by a very small painting, the allusion to the childhood of a future dictator. This is again the monument issue – and it always refers to a virilist image.
The second theme would perhaps be to look for in Mimosa Echard’s and Philippe Decrauzat’s works, whose proposals, could not be more different formally, but who both question the devices of perception, the way we see images, the way they are given to us, the context in which they appear, because both propose works which are extraordinarily «located» within the museum. Mimosa Echard designed what she calls a “liquid painting”. It is a wall of water, a kind of giant screen that reveals and masks at the same time works of the artist, videos, more or less clear, objects also, sometimes placed just behind this wall of water. All are visible only through this “tear wall” that speaks of the flows and spectacularization of the world in which we live. Finally, Philippe Decrauzat imagined two spaces, both distinct and closely interwoven. The first is a room dedicated to painting, where we will see four carved paintings - called «shaped canvases» - which will have the shape of a labyrinth; its white line induces an ocular trajectory for the eyes of the spectator, which stands out on the walls of the traditional white cube museum(2). This first space is offset by the film room, plunged into darkness, which constitutes a «negative» form of the first space. The floor plan of Decrauzat’s space duplicates the labyrinth of the first site. In total, the artist develops a sleek and complex device in which the viewer is completely immersed. An art that takes an almost conceptual form, yet totally sensorial.
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To learn more about the 2022 edition and the named artists: https://www.centrepompidou.fr/en/program/calendar/event/Co2Fgn6
(1) An art historian, Aurélie Verdier holds a doctorate in art history (EHESS, Paris) and a curator with modern collections, the Musée national d'art moderne, the Centre Georges Pompidou. She works on the notion of avant-garde in the 20th century.
(2) Refers to a certain gallery aesthetic, characterized by a square or oblong shape, white walls and a light source, usually from the ceiling. (Source: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/w/white-cube)
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