Prix Marcel Duchamp 2016: Les Nommés


Centre Pompidou, Paris, 12. 10. 2016 – 30. 1. 2017

For the very first time, the Centre Pompidou is showing all of this year’s four Prix Marcel Duchamp finalists: Kader Attia, Yto Barrada, Ulla von Brandenburg and Barthélémy Toguo. With this group exhibition the ADIAF and the Centre Pompidou bring a new dimension to the competition, the new formula allowing the shortlisted artists to exhibit at the Centre Pompidou – sometimes for the first time – so offering a wider public the opportunity to discover their work. This first collective presentation brings out a number of shared themes and approaches: an eye to the contemporary world, an anthropological approach, an interest in ritual, etc. Each year one of the Museum’s curators will help develop the group exhibition.


Yto Barrada : A Fondness for Magic

“I’m fascinated by the complex figure of Thérèse Rivière, a French ethnologist who undertook missions for the Musée de l’Homme, notably in North Africa, returning with a very large collection of objects and images, before being committed to mental hospital with agitated depression. It’s her fondness for magic and the poetic force of her work and of the things that caught her eye (wild flowers, toys, drawings, etc.) that underlie the development of this piece, which I envisage as a rebus. The installation I’m working on will take a form that’s new to me, while also bringing together a number of my usual preoccupations: the spirit of play, geographical and cultural shift, childhood, popular art, and more. I’m looking for a form of biography; I had the idea of creating a set dressed as in 1938, themagical restoration of the room of a young woman working at the Musée d’Ethnographie du Trocadéro (MET), living with her mother and studying under Marcel Mauss, the founder of French ethnology. The arrangement of the room is inspired by the idea of the “ecological unit” so important to the ethnological museums of the post-war years. An ecological unit was an ensemble of objects forming an interior, collected in the course of fieldwork and exhibited in its original configuration in the museum. One of the main theorists of the ecological unit was the museographer Georges-Henri Rivière, “magician of the vitrine” and founder of the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires de Paris, who was in fact Thérèse’s elder brother …”

Alicia Knock, Yto Barrada, in Code Couleur, n°26, september-december 2016, pp. 24-27.

Kader Attia : “A precisely judged and intimate relationship with the viewer”

“The new format of the Prix Marcel Duchamp offers all the short-listed artists the opportunity to show their work to a very broad public. The Centre Pompidou attracts a very diverse range of people, whom we can address emotionally, politically and poetically through a personal aesthetic statement. The 100 to 120 square metres we have each been given motivates us to emphasise the essential, the poetic, and to develop a precisely judged and intimate relationship with the viewer. A space in which we have no right to make mistakes, unless the mistake is part of the scenario, and in Art, everything is possible… Especially when it’s set in dialogue with other stories, with the other “libraries” represented by the other artists selected and by all those who make this museum such an essential agora of murmured conversation, of free speech! The synergies generated present the viewer with contemporary art under the aspect of its raison d’être, as regenerative: the quest and uncertainty of artistic discovery. Art has to recover its complex, absolute, unexpected aspect, far from the annihilating cacophony of a world saturated with false desires and false certitudes.”

Kader Attia, Alicia Knock, in Code Couleur, n°26, september-december 2016, pp. 24-27.

Ulla von Brandenburg : In Colour

“To view It Has a Golden Sun and an Elderly Grey Moon, visitors are invited to climb a set of stairs that are also an immaculate architectural platform. The exhibition at the Centre Pompidou sees the film presented for the first time in France and offers the opportunity for a new scenography. The film itself is a sequence-shot in Super 16 mm, joined end to end, without any editing, featuring dancers who have worked together for years. The idea was, first of all, to make a colour film about colour. The dancers handle coloured pieces of fabric that are exchanged and incorporated into ceremonies. Their costumes are dyed, literally made from colour. Their movements recall the memory of ancient rituals, their bodies traversed by instinctive rhythms, raised to a state of collective consciousness, recalling the choreographic forms of eurhythmics and of expressionist modern dance.”

Alicia Knock, Ulla von Brandenburg, in Code Couleur, n°26, september-december 2016, pp. 24-27.

Barthélémy Toguo : Beating the virus!

“I’m creating an installation to celebrate the enormous research effort going into combatting two great scourges, two viruses currently threatening Africa and the world: AIDS and Ebola. I wanted to pay tribute to the scientists involved in it. First, I spent time at the Institut Pasteur research laboratories and at their sister organisation in Dakar, to meet the scientists and gain inspiration from the work they were doing. I’ve produced a group of eighteen very large porcelain vases decorated with drawings. For me they emblematically represent vessels for water – purifying and revivifying when clean and pure, but a source of danger when polluted, contaminated. I started off with models of viruses and infected cells that I transformed using new 3D-printing techniques whose innovative character echoes that of the work of the researchers. Vastly oversized, making them more than real, these mutated forms celebrate and cheer on the courage, energy and beauty of medical research.”

Barthélémy Toguo, Alicia Knock, in Code Couleur, n°26, september-december 2016, pp. 24-27.