Gaëlle Choisne: TEMPLE OF LOVE — Adorable
April 11 - May 5, 2019
PROGRAM: Musical Performance and Artist Talk: Saturday May 4, 2019- 3 pm
The Mistake Room presents Adorable, a new iteration in French-Haitian artist Gaëlle Choisne’s TEMPLE OF LOVE—an ongoing exploration of love as an unsettling and disruptive political form. This exhibition is in conversation with the music of modernist Haitian composer Carmen Brouard, who trained in France, and eventually came to live in Montreal, Canada. Her time spent on both sides of the Atlantic greatly informed the syncretic vision of modernity that she expressed through her compositions, which at The Mistake Room will be performed within the exhibition by a pianist and violinist from the Colburn School in Los Angeles. Choisne’s installation embraces the chance, intimacy, and processes of creolization found in Brouard’s music to create an architectural space shaped by, and conducive to, the un-forming and irreducible effects of love.
TEMPLE OF LOVE— Adorable is the second exhibition of Histories of a Vanishing Present (HOAVP), The Mistake Room’s 2019-2020 curatorial cycle, which explores, through postmemory, how a generation of artists born at the cusp of the global turn inherit pasts that don’t directly belong to them. For these artists, identity is not bound solely to biology, history, or geography but rather is sited in situationally specific processes of negotiation. The opening exhibition of this cycle, Christopher Myers: Nobody is My Name, examined how identity can be assembled from an accumulation of different locations and experiences. Adorable focuses instead on love’s power to undo our sense of self, both exemplifying and confounding the self-justifying logic of identity which claims: “I do x things, because I am x”. As French philosopher Roland Barthes puts it: “The adorable is what is adorable… I love you because I love you.” Indeed, love can take us to a similarly tautological space as identity, yet— at least in Choisne’s practice— it disrupts identity’s cold logic of causation by instead reveling in confusion and pleasure.
This confusion and pleasure can be formally located in the physical process of engaging Choisne’s installation. Unlike artists in the United States who focus on confessional narrative and figurative imagery, Choisne, like some of her Europe-based generational peers, privileges a poetic accumulation of unexpected moments and bodily experiences. Search out, for example, a dangling cigarette butt and the streaky marks of a moldy orange peel in Choisne’s hanging textiles, or notice the crinkly flowers strewn over water-logged plastic and the scattered photographic “tattoos” hidden about the space. Individually, they come across as mementos to a personal narrative, but together, they are an experience unto themselves. Less evidence of an underlying authorial presence or illustrations of a particular social condition, each new detail conspires to keep the viewer slightly off-balance, and thus actively present in their own bodies. Cumulatively, their corporeal effect draws in the viewer and creates a circular and engrossing space with parallels to love.
At the same time, it would be irresponsible to suggest that love can entirely transcend historical and geographic circumstances. The specific context of Choisne’s work— spread over, throughout and between Europe, Africa, and the Americas—deserves further attention. In her 2018 video, The Sea Says Nothing, representations of race in early cinema (including the first black kiss to be recorded on film, as well as sci-fi and zombie flicks), intermittently skitter across the surface of a looping clip of water speeding and spraying by the camera lens, as though endlessly traversing an ocean. Soundtracked by Brouard’s 1966 piano and violin work Sonate Vaudouesque, the video places the exhibition within the space and discourse of the Black Atlantic. If Adorable is a terrain dedicated to love, it is not at the total expense or negation of social and historical context. With the bent aluminum prints and the pointillistic photographs, we see glimpses beyond the “temple.” They implicate Choisne’s central proposition—for if love is an unsettling and disruptive political force, it is so not when it is secreted away, but rather when it engages with the world.
Gaëlle Choisne: TEMPLE OF LOVE— Adorable is organized by The Mistake Room and curated by Kris Kuramitsu, TMR Deputy Director and Head of Program.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Gaëlle Choisne (1985, France) graduated from the National School of Fine Arts of Lyon. In January 2017, she was admitted into the Rijksakademie, after a one-year residency at the Cité internationale des arts in Paris. Her work has been featured in biennials, group shows and workshops, such as at the Beirut Art Center for the 13th Sharjah Biennial (2017), MAC Lyon (2016), the Lyon Biennial (2015) and the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2018). TEMPLE OF LOVE is her first institutional solo show.
The artist addresses the issues of disaster, the exploitation of resources and the remains of colonialism in dynamic installations which mutate their environment. She unravels these themes through a series of workshops with school students in Port-au-Prince (Haiti) and is currently focusing on a project involving the manipulation of raw materials to elaborate socially and environmentally-conscious urbanism methods.
ABOUT THE CYCLE
Histories of a Vanishing Present (2019-2020) explores how a generation of artists born at the cusp of the global turn inherit pasts that don’t directly belong to them. Through the lens of postmemory, this cycle tackles a new relationship with identity politics forged by a millennial generation of artists for whom ideas of nationalism, cultural heritage, and historical trauma are radically different than for their predecessors. Why do military dictatorships in Latin America, the legacies of the Cold War, the activist histories of the LGBTQ and Civil Rights movements, or independence movements in Africa shape conversations about the work of a global generation of emerging artists whose sole relationship to these moments is the place of their birth, the color of their skin, their sexual orientations, or the familial histories they contend with? At a time when ideas of identity are being revisited in charged and polarizing ways, how can we rethink subjecthood not as a predefined category but as a tense and ongoing process of becoming? This cycle considers identity as situational—as a negotiation between the stories of those who came before and the responsibilities of those who are expected to inherit them.
This exhibition is supported by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US and is part of their artistic series, Ceci n’est pas…
Photo Credit: Nicolas Orozco-Valdivia. Copyright 2018. The Mistake Room Inc.