by STIRworldOct 23, 2022
Paris has successfully sustained a special place when it comes to arts and aesthetic sensibility. From boulevards to open cafes, the places in Paris have anchored the desire shared between artists, philosophers and theoreticians alike to galvanise interdependency between art and architecture. When Asia Now Paris Art Fair shifted its venue from a private mansion in the 8th arrondissement to a historic Monnaie de Paris, the space inevitably spoke to the works and vice versa. Asia Now in conjunction with Art Basel's inaugural Paris + saw the participation of 88 exhibitors and galleries including Alisan Fine Arts, frank elbaz, Gallery Kabinett, Karin Weber Gallery, Loeve &Co and Mitterrand, Lorin Gallery, O Gallery, Pygmalion Art Gallery, Richard Saltoun, Sokyo, Hafez Gallery, The London Gallery, to name a few. To mention, the Asia Society has decided to open its European branch in Paris. The fair dedicated to art produced in Asia does not shy to include the Middle East under its umbrella.
The eighth edition of Asia Now with the special project Places, curated by Kathy Alliou, who was also the Artistic Director of this edition, strove to relook at the architecture of Monnaie de Paris with a series of site-specific art installations to open an opportune moment for the audience to have an immersive experience. This special segment, at an epitome of the 18th century French classicism, Monnaie de Paris, saw a seamless flow of conversation between places, artwork and audience. The possibility of finding artworks, by the artists Rokni Haerizadeh, Ramin Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian, Park Chae Biole, Bita Razavi, Meekyoung Shin, Natsuko Uchino, Trevor Yeung, Mari Minato, for Places, in an unexpected spot made the exhibition dotted to raise curiosity, thereby rightfully garnering the attention of the audience.
In an interview with STIR, Alliou talks about the relationship between the architecture of Monnaie de Paris and immersive art installations, “The typical 18th century architecture of the magnificent site Monnaie de Paris is an embodiment of the diverse aesthetics, belonging to a variety of cultures spread across the globe. Its mineral environment opens the possibility of developing dialogue with the natural material as well as an immaterial or digital medium. That is what I tried to introduce with the outdoor site-specific program Places. The art practices related to coins and medals, from sketches to castings and metalwork, to name a few were reintroduced to the audience within this rich context and legacy.
The Dubai-based Iranian artists Rokni Haerizadeh, Ramin Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian, working together since 2009, with their political art practice have reinforced the significance of the condition of making the works, be it paintings, videos, objects or books. The creative collaboration is not limited to the final form of representation but takes into account the material and environment around which the art grows and nourishes. In a similar spirit, the installation Group’s Response is an overview of collage of images. In the age of the digital surge of images, the act of strategically censoring the visual of state-led atrocities has turned into a commonality. Subsequently, the installation art breaks the conventional definition of disciplines in an effort to navigate the routes to emphasize art is never far from the politics of conditions.
The in-situ installation Garden by Park Chae Biole aspired to share a sensorial experience where the body is activated with the aid of sonic movements. Showcased at the entrance of the Monnaie de Paris in the peristyle, the installation was a combination of a plant and sound hammock. The sound loop composed by Octave Magescas played the poems penned by Park Chae Biole in English. The presence of the motif, i.e. plant, has been consistent in her practice. Moreover, The Whispering Hammock is a project by Park Chae Biole, which investigates the relationship between body and shelter. As the fluidity of the hammock takes its shape as the body flips, Biole proposed to blur the static boundaries of difference between architecture and humans. The dynamic Toilet Project by Meekyoung Shin was composed of soap statues that were once used in the bathroom to wash the hands by the viewers. As soon as they were collected for the art exhibition to put on a display, their erosion came to a halt and turned them into an artefact. The intimate space of the toilet is determined by gender and cultural significance, which added meaning to the ‘live’ participatory installation at the art festival.
The art practice of the interdisciplinary artist Natsuko Uchino emerges from the intersection of craftsmanship, ecology, art and agriculture. Largely rooted in the ceramic practice, Uchino has brought the political economy of the craftsmanship into the forefront. With the low walls of terracotta bricks arranged in parallel to the Cour d'honneur of the Monnaie de Paris, the installation Flames of Joy by Uchino focussed on the human needs of food, shelter and protection.
The installation Fibule by Mari Minato created, with the support of the Ogasawara Foundation, the Nomura Foundation and the Sokyo Gallery, is a continuation of her deep found interests in ancient civilisations and natural phenomena. It is the fluidity with which nature changes and the human tribe find itself adapting to the environment that inspires the works of Minato. The installation, a part of the project Space Parts, comes into being with a fire which, as Minato recollects in the press release, “represents through its dimensions an exact piece of Hôjô, a place where the universe is contained, shaped by the human mind. Throughout firing, the earth itself wears its own edges. The figure appearing at the surface is a fragment of a Gallic fibula. Five silver porcelain pieces represent the vestige of a remote civilisation. Is it the gradual passing of the subtlety of our vision on things? The space I create in my painting contains this "empty" area, free for the imagination and time.”
Alliou, over the many years of the curator’s practice has reimagined the dialogue across traditional and modernist artists to keep the ties across the generations alive. Similarly, the artists under the Places reimagined the history of Monnaie de Paris’s architecture to contest the persistent struggles of everyday life. Towards this end, it brought together the disparate art installation into play to highlight the expanse of the alternate possibilities of viewing the reality that is in sync, yet carries a potential to critique, the world of architecture, art and politics.
Asia now was on display at Monnaie de Paris until October 23, 2022.