New exhibition at Centre Pompidou features works acquired by the museum over the past decade
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New exhibition at Centre Pompidou features works acquired by the museum over the past decade
Kemang Wa Lehulere, Red Winter in Gugulethu, 2016. Céramique peinte, bois, cuir, pelotes de laine, acier, caoutchouc, dimensions variables. Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Paris. Don des amis du Centre Pompidou, Perspective, 2017© droits réservés.

PARIS.- The exhibition “Global(e) Resistance” features works from more than 60 artists acquired by the museum over the past decade. With a strong focus on artists from the Global South, it aims to examine ideas and strategies of resistance in the context of contemporary artistic pratices. It also hopes to bring forth various theoretical questions, exploring the connections between aesthetics and politics, and how museums today relate themselves to politics as well as the different art scenes.

Artists living in oppressive circumstances have long embraced the pratice of protesting through their art, be that political or even activist-like.

The break-up of the colonial systems spurred many voices. Whether directly dealing with political matters or to question versions of our history and remembrance that were over-tenacious, these voices raised to embark on new paths of resistance. Furthermore, resistance has also been organised thanks to art itself, in the form of either poetry or prose.

While focusing mainly on political uprisings during the decolonisation era and the collapse of communist ideologies after 1989, this exhibition also addresse current alternative readings of history via excavation and recording. It starts off with two founding works of the Centre Pompidou’s 1990s collection : the film “The Couple in the Cage“ (1993), in which Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña question ongoing colonial reflexes, and the video “Partially Buried“ (1996) by Renée Green, which highlights the role of subjective memory in the writing of history. In these tumultuous times of emergency, it is our intention to explore how these protests have contributed to the transformation of thought systems, which in turn have led to changes of our perception of the world.

Visitors of “Global(e) Resistance“ are welcomed into the forum by Barthélémy Toguo’s sculpture “Rédemption“, exhibited for the first time since its acquisition. The work depicts the meeting of the North with the South, Panafricanism and the redemption and salvation of peoples. The exhibition is then installed across over 1,500 sq.m space on the fourth floor of the museum (Galerie du Musée, Galerie d’Art Graphique and Galerie 0). The route from the forum to the fourth floor gallery features many wall printed slogans, which are based on works by Barthélémy Toguo. Works on display at the entrance of the gallery also function as our manifestos, with Khalil Rabah tackles the Palestinian situation, Teresa Margolles the Mexican border and Nadia Kaabi-Linke evokes the wandering of the migrants and those without a roof over their heads.

Inspired by Robert Smithson, Renée Green’s work sets forth an initial structure for a polysemous resistance strategy designed on the scale of the landscape and territory, but one that is also connected to intimate memory. Certain cities have captured the imagination of artists - including Braddock (LaToya Ruby Frazier), Johannesburg (Subotzsky and Waterhouse) and Dakar (Cheikh Ndiaye). The scars of economic decline, socio-political unrests and urban recomposition haunt several works.

Parallel to this, artists have depicted the fervour and worries triggered by decolonisation (Kiluanji Kia Henda and Abdoulaye Konaté) especially in South Africa, where the apartheid policy remained active until 1991 (Penny Siopis, Kemang wa Lehulere and Sue Williamson). The questioning of communist theory, tackled by The Propeller Group, and the onset of an authoritarian world, as reflected in the installation by Pratchaya Phintong, are the starting point for protest works attempting to reconcile individual accounts with collective traumas. As for the works by Chim Pom and Yin Xiuzhen, which sound the alarm on our impending environmental threats. In a more contemplative section, literature and philosophy serve as receptacles for more inward-looking resistance as in the work of Mohssin Harraki and M’barek Bouhchichi or the emblematic work “Facing the Wall“ by Song Dong in which a Zen attitude mingles with spiritual combat.

In a second part, following in the footsteps of the Amerindian farce by Fusco and Gómez-Peña, lingering traces of colonialism are highlighted, while awaiting for multicultural recomposition : the ethnographic “circus” of the “good negro” in Brazil (Jonathas de Andrade) is negotiated in a world buckling beneath the weight of scars (Otobong Nkanga). Further along, the issue of mobility within our contemporary capitalist system is considered : migration (Younès Rahmoun, Halil Altindere and Liu Chuang) and the body as a vector for resistance (Evelyn Taocheng Wang and Ming Wong) add to a series of works designed as paths. Lastly, feminist struggles are portrayed in work by Susan Hefuna and Marcia Kure, as are newly raised gender issues.

To expand on notions of artistic protests and strategies, a Salon with archive materials is installed as a debatw forum at the entrance to level 4 of the Museum. This section also features and highlights activities from some of the activist hotspots in France.

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