Whilst Eija-Liisa Athila was quietly impressing me with her subtle and thoughtful videos on the other side of town, at the Palais de Tokyo, something altogether more bizarre was on display. In the rotting concrete grandeur of one of contemporary arts most infamous spaces Loris Gréaud had put together a show which was radiant with ambitious failure.
Cellar Door is hyper conceptual: from video works which only play when no one is in the room, to a net cage ‘sculpture’ in which bored paintballers shoot at each other every half hour, to the ubiquitous low base rumble of bad sound art, this show had everything and not in a good way. The work was fractured and made little sense either as stand alone pieces or as a body of work.
The work was controlled by a man sitting in a booth his computer screens directed away from the visitors so you couldn’t tell if he was working or playing solitair and updating his facebook page.
And with this came text, text and more text. Text on the walls, text in a paper hand out, text on Electroluminescent music stands which flashed to frustrate the reader. And all of it so pretentious and obscure reading it felt like wading through treacle. For example:
“The common version of the artist’s studio, the dream factory, isn’t on display; rather, the studio is featured as a dreaming factory, a delirious object endowed with thought and speech that constantly reinvents itself.”
So much these days seems to be based on the idea that the audience has to unravel something, to work out a mystery set for them by the creator, from TV shows like Lost to films like Donnie Dark. Cellar Door embraces this idea but it seems as though there is no substance behind it, there is no big mystery the artist is as confused as we are! I read a great article in the Guardian about this phenomena in film by John Patterson with Cellar Door this trend has moved over to contemporary art.
From reading this post you would think that I didn’t like Cellar Door and you would be right – the trouble is I can’t seem to stop talking about it. Despite it all it was wonderful. It was great to see something which was so unhampered by any kind of restraint. This exhibition failed totally, but it failed on its own terms and that failure was glorious.
All pictures taken by The Amazing Rolo