Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris, 2011

Artists: Katinka Bock, Laure Bollinger, Louise Bourgeois, Susan Collis, Marcelline Delbecq, Dominique Ghesquière, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Véronique Joumard, Sigalit Landau, Lucie Lanzini, Maria Loboda, Tony Matelli, Wilfredo Prieto and Charlotte Seidel

Co-curated by Amélie Collin, Antonella Croci, Olga Eda , Deborah Galante, Marie Griffay, Fanny Hollman, Anna Kerekes, Loïc Le Gall, Laurie Merle, Sophie Potelon, Clémence Torres

Located in a private mansion, built by comte Moïse de Camondo and overlooking parc Monceau, this museum houses and preserves an exceptional collection of artworks and 18th century furniture belonging to his owner, who named this institution after his son Nissim. According to his will, the mansion and the collection, put together by comte Moïse in the intimacy of his residence, have stayed untouched, therefore reflecting the tastes of a collector with a strong passion for the 18th century, one who was nonetheless attentive to modernity. For the first time, contemporary art lives through this site marked simultaneously by historical events and by the family’s intimate history.

The works exhibited in Échos, mostly dating from the first decade of the 21st century, were presented by the curators based on their ability to blend with the site. Even though all the works are firmly anchored in the present, they share a feeling of timelessness, universal to the artistic movement, which is linked to tastes and heirloom. In accordance with the history of the site and its collections, the exhibition questions the notion of absence and its analogue, the traces of human presence. Therefore, this reflection allows us to highlight the essence of what this place once was: the setting of a family that ended tragically. The works of contemporary art are carefully placed within the various spaces of this exceptional residence in order to create a subtle tension with the art of the past.

The works introduce a dialogue with the history of the site and offer to the visitor a new way of learning. The exhibition gives to the museum’s public a glimpse of contemporary creation in a mood of continuity, of open mindedness and of dialogue between the centuries. This cohabitation opens a new feeling towards contemporary art which reveals itself in an unusual and radically different way when compared to its display in the mainstream contemporary art context.

Cuban artist Wilfriedo Prieto begins the exhibition with El Tiempo es Oro, suggesting a reflection on the concept of time, suspended and frozen. The works oreiller and assiettes by Dominique Ghesquière reveal the remnants of a daily life that was brutally interrupted. The visit is also punctuated by videos of Katinka Bock and Sigalit Landau, a sensual and carnal touch that evokes the movement of history. The Sound of a Jade Figurine falling onto a Chondzoresk Rug is a verbal sculpture by Maria Loboda that delicately accompanies this imperceptible echo. The sound of the artwork by Louise Bourgeois C’est le murmure de l’eau qui chante evokes a faraway voice, that of childhood. Next to symbolic works such as Untitled (Portrait of Dad) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, the curators equally introduce young, creation: Lucie Lanzini and Charlotte Seidel who will intervene in the space with an in situ installation. Marks, neglected objects, traces of abandon are found in works by Véronique Joumard, Susan Collis and Tony Matelli. The exhibition is equally punctuated by two unedited productions by the artists Laure Bollinger and Marcelline Delbecq, works imagined within the framework of this location.

The exhibition follows a trompe-l’oeil path, so that the viewer may experience each space and feel the strength of the dialogue between past and present. Certain works are a testament to traces of the daily life and intimacy of a family who has disappeared; whereas others play on the perception of the object or even of its dematerialization. The contemporary works question the meaning of absence and place greater value on the poetic evocation of memory.

About the curators of the exhibition

In 2000, upon the initiative of Professor Serge Lemoine, the Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris IV) inaugurated the Professional Master 2 « L ’art contemporain et son exposition ». This Master prepares students to become future curators: this training is a unique and privileged opportunity to focus on the role of curators as a link between the artist and the public. Every year, the students organize an exhibition in a different space.