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Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago opens first major US solo museum exhibition of French artist
Jimmy Robert, Untitled, 2005. Jimmy Robert, courtesy Galerie Diana Stigter, Amsterdam.

CHICAGO, IL.- The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago presents Jimmy Robert Vis--vis, the first major US solo museum exhibition of French artist Jimmy Robert. One of the most dynamic young artists in Europe, Brussels-based Robert works in a range of media, including photography, sculptural objects, film, video, and collaborative performances. What unites his diverse practices is a concern for the body, and a guiding interest in using ephemeral materials, such as paper, tape, and performance. Jimmy Robert Vis--vis is organized by MCA Curator Naomi Beckwith and is on view August 25 to November 25, 2012.

Exploring a robust cross-section of Robert’s practice over the past eight years, the exhibition presents a diverse range of work including photography, sculptural objects, film, and performance. In close collaboration with the artist, the MCA presents many of these elements in new configurations or as site-specific installations.

Jimmy Robert came of age in the 1980s and 90s under national conditions in which the question of who is a citizen was hotly contested. He is part of a generation of artists who take for granted the dictum “the personal is political,” yet his work avoids overt political subject matter in favor of a central concern for the body and a guiding interest in the poetic potential of ephemeral materials, such as paper, tape, and performance. From collages comprising found photographs and torn paper to metal sculptures that create the illusion of being paper forms, Robert’s works extend into the space of the gallery, creating an immediate relationship to the viewer’s body while also underscoring a kind of transience.

Robert often uses photography as a starting point, and then gently breaks down the divisions between two and three dimensions, image and object. Some of his found photographs are torn, crumpled, and photographed again, then pinned to the wall as digital prints. In other cases, Robert makes new photographs in his studio and crams them into wooden boxes or arranges them on the gallery floor. Likewise, Robert’s sculptures either give the illusion of paper forms, or are made from wood-based materials, playing with notions of value and durability.

Robert’s films and videos have a sense of the ordinary in their scale, subject, and material; he is inspired by the French New Wave, and particularly by the feminist filmmakers Marguerite Duras and Chantal Akerman. Also in an intimate register, Robert’s dance and performance works value gesture and chance over elaborate choreography, with references to Fluxus and the Judson Dance Theater. His exhibition at the MCA includes a performance in the galleries that concludes the installation of his work.

Born in the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe in 1975, Robert was raised in Paris and received his degree in Fine Art and Critical Theory from Goldsmiths College (London, UK) in 1999, and an MFA from the Rijksakademie (Amsterdam, Netherlands) in 2005. Robert has shown extensively internationally,with solo and group projects presented at the ICA and Tate in London; the Kunsthalle Basel; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; FRAC/Le Plateau in Paris; the Gwangju Biennial; the Berlin Biennial; and the Yokohama Triennial.

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