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La Criée centre of Contemporary Art presents the first solo exhibition in France by Mahony
Model for the work Poor Mamma´s Panacea, 2013. Wax. Courtesy Mahony et Galerie Emanuel Layr, Vienna.

RENNES.- La Criée is presenting «Slow Season», the first solo exhibition in France by Mahony, an Austrian art collective currently based in Berlin. «Slow Season» combines a variation on the theme of absence with an exploration of our cultural and economic models, past and present.

Different geographical and historical zones, different social and political contexts: Mahony’s projects often start out with aspects – real or fictional, known or unknown – of our collective memory. The collective provokes confrontations, two-way trajectories and spatio-temporal connections between several strata and several interpretations of the same narrative; the upshot is a rhizomatic, constantly evolving work process whose issues lie neither in the trigger factor nor the ultimate purpose, but in the data constellation created in between.

Slow Season takes its inspiration from its La Criée context – the history, the space and the site of an art centre in a former fish market – and from the tutelary figures of the heroes of Homer and James Joyce.

The exhibition is built around a succession of reciprocally responding works and clues that form an assemblage made of scraps of a story – or maybe several possible stories.

Entering the exhibition space, visitors are confronted by Slow Season (2013), a large format archival photograph of the covered market dating from the 1920s, repainted by hand. This work sets up an interaction between the space itself, its built environment and its history: a direct echo of La Criée, it makes the centre a full protagonist in the exhibition scenario.

References to the Ulysses of Joyce and Homer are everywhere. Meeting of the Waters (2013), for example, offers a map of the public garden in Dublin where part of Chapter 10 of Joyce’s Ulysse is played out. A response in the form of Swansong (2013), a quotation from the same chapter, prompts interplay between the exhibition’s historical roots and variations on its mythical theme.

The literary allusions are paralleled by a close focus on the complexities and excesses of contemporary society. This leads Mahony to an emphasis on objects that channel conflict, and whose contradictory nature they spotlight: mass consumption items and archaeological artefacts treated and considered both as merchandise and as vehicles for meaning.

For Mahony these objects, which circulate on the global market, are inherently an expression of today’s materialist culture. The installation Gum - Paste Incident (2011) contains a reference to a Mayan statue whose authenticity was recently challenged when it came up for sale: the installation questions its value as an (art) object and calls attention to the power struggles taking place between Old Europe and the ‘other worlds’.

Slow Season’s equilibrium is doubly underpinned by this subtle mix of the poetic and the political and by the artists’ attentiveness to the exhibition’s setting. Crucial here is the image of the sharp-eyed nomadic observer: the flâneur, from Leopold Bloom to Walter Benjamin, or the long-distance traveller, from Ulysses to Ernest Shackleton.

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